Performing Peace: Vernacular Reconciliation and the Diplomacy of Return in Cyprus

Rebecca Bryant, Mete Hatay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Cyprus conflict is usually described as one between a majority Greek Cypriot and minority Turkish Cypriot population, with their opposing visions of the island’s future. In that conflict, more than 200,000 Cypriots from both these communities were displaced between 1958 and 1974. Lost in this standard narrative, however, are the conflict’s other ‘Others’: the smaller Maronite, Armenian, Latin, and Roma populations, who also experienced displacement in the course of the conflict. This paper concerns the Maronite community’s struggle to remain in or return to their historic lands in the island’s northwest. We examine the acts of everyday diplomacy that, over the past decade, have resulted in a revival of the largest Maronite village, a removal of restrictions on their rights, and most recently the partial withdrawal of the Turkish military from another Maronite village so that it may be reopened to settlement. We use these as instances of what we term ‘vernacular reconciliation’, ways of rebuilding coexistence that suspend questions of sovereignty that remain at the heart of the Cyprus impasse. We argue that this pragmatic approach calls on cultural knowledge of past patterns of coexistence through performances that in turn produce deeply felt senses of responsibility and patterns of reciprocity. Such patterns of reciprocity, we show, are reappropriated in the context of ongoing conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • peace
  • Cyprus
  • conflict


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