Refugees and the Meaning of Home: Cypriot Narratives of Loss, Longing and Daily Life in London
Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015, 188 pp.
In the past couple of decades, a large body of literature has developed in the social sciences to engage with questions of home and belonging in the context of displacement. A significant part of this work has been committed to challenging established sedentarist perspectives that tend to naturalize the attachment of refugees to their homes left behind. Sedentarism is underpinned by nationalist logics that peoples and cultures belong to clearly defined geographical spaces contained within national borders. Within this framework, repatriation and the return of refugees to their homes and houses are privileged as solutions to displacement. Helen Taylor's book makes an insightful contribution to these debates through the study of Cypriot refugee narratives of loss, longing, and daily life in London. Taking a "middle ground" approach, Taylor shows very effectively how on the one hand "home" is socially and culturally constructed, and the way it is experienced varies among groups of refugees and individuals. On the other hand, she is cautious not to undermine the role sedentarist meanings of home play in refugees' pleas for rights and/or return.
Inter- and intra-communal violence in Cyprus in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in mass displacement of mainly Turkish Cypriots from villages, towns, and city districts. In 1974 a Greek-backed coup was followed by a Turkish military operation that resulted in the separation of the island into two parts. The war and the division produced further mass displacement of about 170,000-200,000 Greek Cypriots and 40,000-50,000 Turkish Cypriots. Although there are a large number of studies concerned with the displaced within Cyprus, less attention has been given to those who left the island as a result of their displacement. This book closes this gap by focusing on Greek and Turkish Cypriots who fled to Britain during and after the violent events. Britain was an obvious choice for many of the displaced, as some had already established family networks there or held British passports after having worked for the colonial administration before Cyprus's independence in 1960. Although Britain never legally recognized these Cypriots as refugees, Taylor uses the term refugee in a broad definition, not least because it is widely used by her research participants to...