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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Olga Demetriou

Demetriou, Olga (2014). ‘Struck by the Turks’ reflections on Armenian refugeehood in Cyprus. Patterns of Prejudice 48(2): 167-181.

Author(s) from Durham


A large part of the Armenian community in Cyprus descends from survivors of the 1915 genocide in Anatolia who initially settled in neighbourhoods of the capital Nicosia. Following the independence of the island from British colonialists in 1960, these neighbourhoods fell under Turkish-Cypriot administration. As the ethnic conflict unfolded between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots from 1963 onwards, these Armenians became displaced from their homes for a second time, seeking refuge in the Greek-Cypriot sector. Demetriou analyses the experience of this displacement and the entanglement of the legal, political and subjective spheres that constitute it. She examines the legal and administrative measures that classified those fleeing from Turkish-Cypriot administered areas as Tourkóplikti (struck by the Turks), a label that reinforced the distinction between Armenians and Greek-Cypriots, the majority of whom were displaced in 1974, and were officially classified as ‘refugees’ or prósfiyes. By looking at the difference between Tourkóplikti and prósfiyes, Demetriou interrogates the location of the Armenian minority within the Greek-Cypriot community. She argues that the silencing of minority experiences of the conflict does not merely impoverish our understanding of it, but also perpetuates a blindness to subtle structures of discrimination. Understanding these structures can show how victimization may turn into a domination strategy (such as through the production of a hegemonic rhetoric of refugeehood). Attention to such processes, which develop through and in the aftermath of conflict, might offer a better grasp of the complex patterns of post-conflict prejudice and exclusion.