Comparative Studies in Society and History

Research Article

Partitions of Memory: Wounds and Witnessing in Cyprus

Rebecca Bryanta1 c1

a1 London School of Economics

The image has become an iconic one: five young men in dirty uniforms kneel in the middle of a dusty plain with their hands behind their heads. They squint in the blinding midday sun, their faces expressing anxiety and a measure of fear. A Turkish soldier leans to talk to one of them, appearing calm, even friendly. To one side another Turkish soldier whose face we do not see stands guard. This photograph has become one of the most famous images to come out of the Cyprus conflict. The men's kneeling posture, the fright in their eyes, and the apparent calm of the soldiers all evoke a vulnerability to violence. And like the bloody photo of a woman and her children murdered in their Nicosia home that was used for decades by the Turkish Cypriot administration, or like certain photographs of distraught women crying for losses that we can only imagine, the image of these five young men has been reprinted in pamphlets and brochures, newspapers and books, in ways that take for granted its power to evoke their uncertain fate.

(Online publication March 22 2012)




Acknowledgments: Research for this paper was conducted between 2003 and 2005 with support from the Fulbright New Century Scholars Scholarship from the Council for International Exchange of Scholars and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Grant from the Program on Global Security and Sustainability. Additional funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Advanced Study supported the initial writing. All translations from Greek and Turkish in the text are the author's.