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Shared Space in Conflict Areas: Exploring the Case of Nicosia’s Buffer Zone

Journal: Athens Journal of Mediterranean Studies (Vol.1, No. 1)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 45-60

Keywords : ;

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The physical divide of urban areas, often the extreme result of conflict and state contestation is considered a non-sustainable longterm solution. However, a political settlement of the conflict is, in most cases, considered a prerequisite for cooperative development. Thus, where consensus remains unachievable, this temporary situation is becoming permanent, affecting the city’s physical landscape, and penetrating various levels of urban life. Towards the goal of exploring the broader questions of emergence of this type of city as a norm and its viability, the city of Nicosia provides an apt framework for a case study. Officially divided since 1974 between Turkish- and Greek-Cypriots, this city demonstrates an elaborate Master Plan facilitating professional collaboration between opposing parties. Furthermore, during the last decade, Nicosia has been experiencing a shift of paradigm mainly due to the restitution of mobility between its two sectors in 2003. This paper is looking at local initiatives in Nicosia’s urban core, the Walled City, and focuses on spatial practices that contest the established notions regarding the infrastructure of partition, with special attention to the Buffer Zone. The analysis, based on qualitative data collected on field, is centered on the actions and activities of NGOs and radicalized groups, in order to explore some of the socio-spatial processes through which diverse groups of people come together and negotiate their understanding of belonging, thus renegotiating, in this context, notions of identity, citizenship, and memory. I argue that Nicosia’s Buffer Zone is a dynamic social construction; and as such it induces various interpretations and discourses, while it simultaneously provides the space for their physical expression. In conclusion, this space is being transformed, even briefly, into shared space, produced by the combined efforts of civil society. This paper aims at highlighting this rarely acknowledged perspective of space production under contested state.

Last modified: 2015-10-06 14:44:10