neophytos loizides on settler politics in cyprus


Neophytos Loizides, ‘Contested migration and settler politics in Cyprus’, Political Geography (2011).

Immigration and settler literatures provide contrasting approaches to the evaluation of conflict between ‘newcomers’ and ‘indigenous’ groups. On the one hand, immigration studies emphasize that newcomers, particularly migrants, almost never fight civil wars; on the other hand, studies on settlers in contested territories expect inherently unstable relations between settlers and native populations affected by colonization projects. While each provides strong evidence to support its argument, neither literature has adequately accounted for hybrid cases where the settler and migrant categories have become almost indistinguishable. The article focuses on Cyprus as a paradigmatic such case. Specifically, it looks at populations transferred from Turkey to the northern part of the island after 1974 described either as settlers or immigrants by rival accounts in the Cypriot conflict. While colonization constitutes a violation of international conventions and a major obstacle to peace, settlers in such places as Cyprus, Tibet or Western Sahara often meet the profile of migrant populations more interested in daily survival issues than in territorial politics. In contrast to other historical or contemporary cases of settler colonialism such as Algeria (France) or West Bank and Gaza (Israel), what is particularly puzzling in Cyprus and elsewhere is the absence of mobilization and politicization among settlers despite perceived discrimination and fear of relocation following a negotiated peace agreement. Addressing this puzzle is essential to bridging the gaps between immigration and settler literatures and in mediating the tensions between conflicting claims over space, land and the political geography of peace settlements in deeply divided societies.

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