Cyprus: From an Argued Past to a Shared Future
Most individuals face traumatic events during their lifetime, but when entire groups of people are trapped inside the width and breadth of a horrific atrocity, their experiences can also become a shared or “collective trauma.” If an aim of conflict analysis scholars is to contribute to a sustained and peaceful resolution, the psychological and social impact of violence – upon the individual as well as the community – must be broadly examined and synthesized into future strategies and recommendations. The island of Cyprus is home to one of the longest standing and intractable conflicts since the establishment of the United Nations. Its history includes forced occupation, invasion, being traded, and betrayed. There have been military coupes, unilateral decision makers, and aggressive military interventions. Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have their own historical, fixed, and salient collective trauma. It is a stubborn memory; one that appears and reappears as an old and unhealed wound. The aim of this qualitative study is three-fold: (1) to elucidate the role and effect of opposing Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot trauma narratives upon the peace process; (2) to examine the dialectic exacerbation between the two narratives; and (3) to explore how these narratives have been transmitted to new generations. This research is especially focused on how collective trauma narratives shape perceptions, but at the same time, how they shape social identity, and perceptions of the self. Through a comparison of conflict narratives, this study elaborates on how invalidated or unresolved collective trauma can serve as an insidious source of distrust, enemy imaging, a clash of identities among parties, and how it can also serve to justify each party’s actions and reactions. Also, the research aims to explore specific ways the people of Cyprus might be able to move forward from their argued and vehemently opposed understandings of the past, toward a more shared and cohesive future.
Keywords: Sustainable Peace, Peaceful Coexistence, Cyprus Conflict, Conflict Narratives, Collective Trauma