PSU prof. writes about conflict in Cyprus

    Growing up in the Republic of Cyprus gave Harry Anastasiou more than just a unique childhood experience – it gave him the inspiration for his upcoming book.

    Anastasiou, an associate professor in the Portland State Conflict Resolution graduate program, said he put a great deal of his personal and professional experience into his book The Broken Olive Branch, a study of the ongoing conflict in Cyprus. A Greek Cypriot, Anastasiou was able to draw from his years spent growing up on Cyprus, and his work as a core member of the Conflict Resolution program at PSU, to write about the rivalry between Greece and Turkey.

    Anastasiou said his book is an attempt at an interdisciplinary and integrated study of nationalism, a tremendous patriotism to one’s country that can lead to conflict, and the conflict on Cyprus framed and approached from the perspective of academic conflict resolution. Although conflict between Greece and Turkey has been raging for hundreds of years, it escalated 35 years ago.

    The sporadic violence that began over proposed amendments to the constitution by the Greek president, which would limit Turkish rights, culminated in the summer of 1974. A coup unseated the Greek government on the island and the Turkish military invaded, killing several thousand Greek Cypriots and displacing thousands on both sides.

    Anastasiou said he experienced first-hand the dispute that started after the third-largest Mediterranean island gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960.

    ”The thesis of the book is that nationalism is a world and life view and it takes Cyprus as a case in point for this ethnocentric nationalism. It addresses the legacy of conflict on Cyprus, as well as the capacity for nationalism to legitimize the use of force and violence,” Anastasiou said.

Anastasiou said The Broken Olive Branch represents one of the first interdisciplinary studies of Cyprus that does not take nationalism as a given, but rather as a particular condition of the conflict.

    Anastasiou was born in England but grew up in Cyprus. He said his experiences have not only motivated him to be academically involved in conflict resolution, but also to take a principal role in the creation of a citizen-based peace movement on Cyprus. He also is the leader of a PSU overseas trip to Cyprus.

    ”Cyprus is a good place to study conflict because they are no longer fighting. And Harry has good political, academic, and cultural contacts there,” said Andrew Culberson, a graduate student in the Conflict Resolution program who went on the trip in the spring of 2005. Culberson said that meeting and talking to strangers in Cyprus could be just as informative as talking to scholars of the subject.

    Anastasiou wrote in his abstract for the book that it addresses the confrontational aspects of the nationalist worldview in terms of the Greco-Turkish conflict, and studies its historical influence on contemporary politics, inter-ethnic violence, inter-communal communication, and negotiation between the two countries. The book also follows the development of current post-nationalist politics in Cyprus up to the peace process guided by the European Union, and the failure of the Cyprus referendum of 2004.

    Editorial reviews have described The Broken Olive Branch as unique in the number of disciplines – historical, political, and cultural – that are brought to bear on the problem.

    ”To my knowledge, there is no other book on the Cyprus conflict which so wonderfully offers a rich multidisciplinary understanding of the Cypriot experience – it is written with clarity and compassion,” wrote Dr. Maria Hadjipavlou, a professor in the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cyprus.

    Pending some editorial changes, The Broken Olive Branch will be available through Ooligan Press, the Portland State book publishing company, in the next few weeks.