The Question of Cultural Genocide and Racism: Personal Reflections on the Case of Northern Cyprus

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"On the one hand, I can sympathize with the cause of protecting one's own culture and the sense of selfhood that comes with this action; in fact, I regard this as an important goal for all people. For example, many Native Americans have found that preserving their culture and immersing themselves in their ancestral rituals are what makes them complete — i.e. it grounds them in a place and gives them a personal and communal identity reaching from far back into history to the present. On the other hand, some intellectuals and more moderate politicians (such as Mehmet Hasguler[2]) recognize that the Turkish Cypriot identity is becoming more exclusive to the point of becoming almost racist. They advise that Turkish Cypriots should not direct their anger at Turkish policies of (what I will call) De Facto Annexation of Northern Cyprus (DFANC; to be discussed below) unto the settler population (i.e. immigrants from Turkey who come to live in Cyprus, most usually for work), but rather towards Turkish leaders who are not respecting the independence of Turkish Cyprus from Turkey. As a person who is half Cypriot and half Turkish, this conflict puzzled me: is there a cultural genocide going on in the TRNC? Are Turkish Cypriots acting in a discriminatory manner? If so, why is this the case and ultimately, what can and should be done about it?"


This article was originally published on Beyond Intractability in December 2012.

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The Beyond Intractability Project