This paper proposes a historical ethnographic way to rethink nationalism in postcolonial, post-conflict settings. It suggests that “modular” nationalisms (a la Anderson) coexisting in the same society are not only based on entirely different readings of the past but, importantly, can lead to entirely different futures of statehood. Focusing on the emic ways people claim and articulate state symbols (past and future), the paper moves beyond “nationalism” as an analytic, to critically analyse statehood in the everyday. It does so through analysing the two main vernacular ways the Greek-Cypriot population engages statehood, and thus the Cyprus Problem (a problem of post-war division of state, refugeehood, and ethnic nationhood). I ethnographically dissect two different languages of “nationalism” -largely unknown outside Cyprus-, which in many ways are pertinent to the post-colonial condition far beyond the island, too. These concern on the one hand the idea of divisionism and on the other that of cypriotism. I therefore show how the bicommunal nature of the state in Cyprus (“Greek” and “Turkish”) finds emic continuity among certain Greek-Cypriots that adhere to a non-nation-bound loyalty glossed as cypriotism. I also illustrate how dividing techniques of conventional nationalist rhetoric operate among other Greek-Cypriots. Highlighting from below the local languages pertaining to the Cyprus Problem (one of the oldest “frozen conflicts” in the world), the paper contributes to understanding the political vernacular in post-colonial and post-conflict contexts. 


Theodoros Rakopoulos is associate professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. He is the author of From Clans to Co-ops: Confiscated mafia land in Sicily (2017, Berghahn), editor of The global life of austerity (2018, Berghahn) and co-editor of Towards an anthropology of wealth (2019, Routledge, with K. Rio). He has moreover published about 30 peer-review articles, most recently on citizenship, property, statehood, and conspiracy theory (forthcoming in 2022:  “The state/property nexus: Communal land and the Cyprus Problem”, JRAI, 28(3); “Of fascists and dreamers: Conspiracy theory and anthropology”, Social Anthropology 30(1); “The golden passport EUtopia: Offshore citizens in a global Republic”, Social Anthropology 30(3)). His next book, Citizenship for sale: The global market for passports in Cyprus tackles citizenship by investment programmes and elite Russian migration to “Europe” (Manchester University Press, 2023).