Nation, narrative and commemoration: Political ritual in divided Cyprus
SourceHistory and Anthropology
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This article examines the issue of political commemoration, focusing on the commemorations organized by different political parties in the two sides of divided Cyprus. It suggests a new analytical framework for the study of ritual in contemporary nation-states that moves beyond the usual examination of any single ritual on its own terms. The use of comparison, both within each side and between the two sides, reveals how political actors stage commemorations of different historical events in order to propose contesting historical narratives. Hence, the meaning of any commemorative ritual can be understood only as part of the broader story that each narrative proposes. The historical narratives proposed by different political actors share certain common characteristics by virtue of all employing the narrative form: a beginning, a plot, certain categories of actors, the spatial location where history unfolds, the moral centre through which events are to be evaluated and the end. However, each narrative suggests a different story through which issues of identity and "otherness", self-justification and blame are negotiated in order to define the "imagined community" of the nation, its enemies and its pertinent history. © 2003 Taylor & Francis Ltd.