On April 23, 2003, to the surprise of much of the world, the
ceasefire line that divides Cyprus opened. The line had partitioned
the island since 1974, and so international media heralded the
opening of the checkpoints as a historic event that echoed the fall
of the Berlin Wall. As in the moment of the Wall's collapse,
cameras captured the rush of Cypriots across the border to visit
homes unwillingly abandoned three decades earlier. It was a
euphoric moment, and one that led to expectations of reunification.
But within a year Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected at
referendum a United Nations plan to reunite the island, despite
their Turkish compatriots' support for the plan. In The Past in
Pieces, anthropologist Rebecca Bryant explores why the
momentous event of the opening has not led Cyprus any closer to
reunification, and indeed in many ways has driven the two
communities of the island further apart.
This chronicle of the "new Cyprus" tells the story of the opening
through the voices and lives of the people of one town that has
experienced conflict. Over the course of two years, Bryant studied
a formerly mixed town in northern Cyprus in order to understand
both experiences of life together before conflict and the ways in
which the dissolution of that shared life is remembered today.
Tales of violation and loss return from the past to shape meanings
of the opening in daily life, redefining the ways in which Cypriots
describe their own senses of belonging and expectations of the
political future. By examining the ways the past is rewritten in
the present, Bryant shows how even a momentous opening may lead not
to reconciliation but instead to the discovery of new borders that
may, in fact, be the real ones.
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