I am currently a PhD candidate in the School of History and International Relations at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.
My PhD journey began in April 2013; I was motivated to write the hidden chapter of Cypriot history: that of inter-communality, cooperation and friendship between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots.
My topic was inspired by the loving friendship between my Greek Cypriot pappou (grandfather), Costas, and his Turkish Cypriot best friend, Mehmet. Pappou Costas continues to provide me with inspiration through his love and thirst for knowledge.
About my research topic
Title: My beloved enemy: Muslim-Christian relations prior to conflict and division in a once harmonious Cyprus.
I am passionate about my research topic as it is personal to me. My grandfather moved to Australia in 1947 but before then, he lived in Agia Irini, a harmonious, multi-ethnic village in the Kyrenia District in the north of Cyprus. He told me stories of how he and his brothers would play with Turkish-Cypriot children, that it was common to speak both Greek and Turkish, embrace each other’s cultural and religious customs and attend each other’s events. This was normal life in Agia Irini, and many parts of Cyprus, until civil unrest broke out in the mid-1950s.
The aim of my interdisciplinary dissertation is to record and examine, first hand, oral history accounts of the relationships between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in several former mixed villages of Cyprus, before civil unrest broke out on the island. My study uses interviews conducted by myself, of elderly Greek and Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus and in Australia, which capture their childhood and early adulthood stories from several mixed villages, to explore Christian-Muslim relations in Cyprus from the 1930s-1960s. So far, I have conducted 33 interviews in Australia, spanning 6 different states and territories, and 40 interviews in Cyprus, spanning the north and south of the island.
The four central research objectives are:
1. To capture and explore the childhood and early adulthood stories of friendship and intercommunality of those Greek and Turkish Cypriots who lived in mixed villages of Cyprus during the 1930s-1974;
2. To investigate the experiences of the Cypriot diaspora in Australia, how each group settled and with which communities they engaged;
3. To examine how the memories differ between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, between those who migrated to Australia and those who stayed, and between those who migrated to Australia before civil unrest erupted in Cyprus, and those who lived through the civil unrest and migrated later;
4. To understand how religious, ethnic and national identities formed and evolved amongst Greek and Turkish Cypriots in both Cyprus and Australia.
My research fits into subaltern studies, an aspect of history that has become increasingly important in recent decades. While history is usually written by politicians and academics, I aim to give a voice to the labouring and working classes; to reclaim a part of their history while they are still alive to tell their stories.
I hope and expect that my research will open discussions between elderly Cypriots and their grandchildren, as well as between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. I hope that my research will shift the dynamic between young Greek and Turkish Cypriots and point a way to a shared future.
MY JOURNEY TO CYPRUS
On May 20th 2015, I flew to Cyprus to spend two months conducting interviews of Greek and Turkish Cypriots from three formerly mixed villages, spanning the north and the south of the island. One village (Agia Irini) had a Turkish Cypriot majority; another (Polis Chrysochous) had a Greek Cypriot majority, and the third, Alaminos, had close to a 50/50 split throughout the 1920s-1960s.
I also undertook archival research in Nicosia and London, and presented at my first two international conferences, one in Nicosia and one in Liverpool. Details of the conferences can be found on my ‘News & Events’ page.
I am still conducting interviews in Australia. You can follow my journey here, or you can click the ‘Follow’ button on the bottom right of your screen to sign up to get every new post delivered to your inbox.
ACADEMIC MEMBERSHIPS INCLUDE:
- Australian Institute of International Affairs
- Australian Political Studies Association
- Oral History Association
- Cyprus Academic Dialogue
- European Association of Social Anthropologists