The Glocal Green Line: The Imperial Cartopolitical Puppeteering of Cyprus
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CitationBueno-Lacy, Rodrigo. Van Houtum, Henricus. (2018). The Glocal Green Line: The Imperial Cartopolitical Puppeteering of Cyprus. Geopolitics, 24 (3) , 586-624. 10.1080/14650045.2018.1508014.
Cyprus has been divided for more than four decades by a cease fire line known as “the Green Line”. This long-standing partition has made the island infamous for the seemingly unsolvable antagonism between its “Turkish” and “Greek” inhabitants. In this article, we argue that, in order to better understand why this division has remained obstinately meaningful for Cypriots, we need to “delocalise” the Green Line that separates them. We contend that the foundation upon which the conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots has been built—and consequently also the location of the Green Line keeping them apart—does not lie in an indigenous hostility between the Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking communities of Cyprus. Instead, we argue that this is the result of imperial puppeteering: Cyprus’ Greco-Turkish enmity is largely based on perceptions of space, heritage and identification that were first introduced during the British colonisation and have been persistently—if not always deliberately—reinforced by chronic external intrusions and counter-productive conflict-resolution initiatives. We claim that a succession of British imperialism, Hellenic irredentism, Turkish nationalism, Cold-War geopolitics, UN conflict resolution and EU expansion have created, inculcated and reinforced cartographically organized perceptions of space, history and culture—a cartopolitics—that have invented the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots as identitary categories and perpetuated their antagonism. Thus, rather than an essentially local and binary play, the Cypriot conflict should be regarded as a glocal drama in which outside actors have been pulling the strings of the island’s politics. The readjustment of the historiographical and geographical limitations to which the Cypriot conflict has been confined so far has decisive implications for the island’s reunification: merely to zoom in on the hostile dichotomy at work is insufficient. Rather, to understand the persistence of the Green Line fracturing the island we need to zoom out from Cyprus.