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Title: Competing political spaces in colonial Cyprus, 1931-1950
Author: Kalantzopoulos, Dimitrios
ISNI:       0000 0004 5991 1079
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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The outbreak of the October Revolt in 1931 provided the government in Cyprus with an ideal opportunity to act against its political opponents and repress political activity in the island. But the authoritarian regime failed to dampen the growing political ferment in Cyprus, which would ultimately make British colonial rule unsustainable. This thesis seeks to explore the politicization of Cypriot society and to interpret the discourses and dynamics of the emerging political spaces. In particular, it focuses on three key themes in the making of contemporary Cyprus: first, the confrontation between secular and confessional politics and the consolidation of nationalism in the Greek-Cypriot community; second, the processes through which nationalist politics eventually prevailed within the Turkish-Cypriot community, at the expense of the traditional, pro-British elite; and thirdly, the emergence and consolidation of a ‘Left’ political space, dominated by the labour movement and AKEL. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s the Orthodox Church sought to claim an ethnarchic leadership over the Greek-Cypriot community, promoting a nationalist politics, bonded by the claim to enosis, or union of Cyprus with Greece. The confessional politics of the community, however, came to be challenged by the gradual formation of a broad secular political space, marked by the foundation of AKEL in 1941. The social and political programme put forward by the party gained great appeal among the Greek-Cypriot population, redefining the politics of the community. However, AKEL employed the increasingly hegemonic nationalist discourse and eventually adopted enosist politics. By 1950 ethnarchic enosist politics had prevailed within the community, demonstrating the state’s failure to gain Greek-Cypriots’ loyalty. By contrast, the Muslim traditional pro-British elite lagged behind the rising nationalist politics advocated by a modernist secular Kemalist political force. Despite the Government’s attempts to control its appeal, the modernizing leadership had prevailed within the Turkish-Cypriot community by the end of the Second World War. The new leadership called constantly for communal autonomy and for Cyprus’ restoration to Turkey if Britain left the island, while its cooperation with the Government would be dependent on the political conjunctures throughout the rest of colonial rule. Faced with the increasingly radical Greek-Cypriot nationalism, the Turkish-Cypriot community was gradually nationalized, as demonstrated at the end of the 1940s. Nevertheless, some bi-communal cooperation materialized at the grassroots level: throughout the period under scrutiny Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots participated in common labour mobilizations. Despite the Government’s legal and administrative precautions and the use of repressive measures, the trade unions, supported by the parties of the Left, managed to organize a mass labour movement appealing to broad sections of Cypriot society across ethnic and religious boundaries. However, the adoption of the enosist politics by AKEL and the hardening of the nationalist politics of both the Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot leaderships led to an increasing polarization of Cypriot society on ethnic lines, a process which the labour movement proved unable to avert. By 1950, nationalist politics had prevailed within both communities, leading to the consolidation of the ethnic division of Cypriot society in the following years.
Supervisor: Ricks, David Bruce ; Drayton, Richard Harry Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available