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Conflict, Borders, Multilingualism, Translation

This Global Seminar treats the language politics of Cyprus as a way into discussions of borders, conflict, translation, and, more generally, intercultural communication.

Conflict, Borders, Multilingualism, Translation
Association for Historical Dialogue and Research, Nicosia, Cyprus

Karen Emmerich, associate professor of comparative literature

Nicosia—Lefkosia in Greek, Lefkoşa in Turkish—is, as the triple name suggests, the site of intense linguistic and cultural interaction. It is the last divided city in the world; its old, walled city center is split roughly in half by a UN buffer zone that has been in place since the détente of 1974. It is both a post-conflict and a post-colonial city, with a past as a British protectorate, with strong political and cultural ties to both Greece and Turkey. The languages of Nicosia, and of Cyprus more generally, are multiple and ever-shifting, from Greek and Turkish to Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot—all of them also multiple and shifting even within themselves—to the many languages of third-country nationals living on the island, including UN personnel, economic migrants, refugees and foreign investors.

This Global Seminar treats the language politics of Cyprus as a way into discussions of borders, conflict, translation, and, more generally, intercultural communication. Students will read literary, historical, anthropological, sociological, legal and other materials dealing with the island, its linguistic and social makeup, its present and its past. In addition to critical readings in these fields, students will meet with numerous individuals living and working on the island, including writers, artists, anthropologists, politicians, activists, and of course translators actively engaged in multicommunal efforts to forge connections and relationships across Cyprus’s many divides. Our classes will meet in the buffer zone itself, at the offices of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research, an NGO invested in peace and reconciliation efforts on the island. Trips further afield will take us to sites of cultural, political, and historical interest both north and south of the Green Line, including Limassol, Larnaca, Kyrenia, Famagusta, and Karpasia.

Each student will choose to study either Greek or Turkish during their time on Cyprus; this mix will allow students, too, to take part in the language brokering aspect of the course, serving as de facto translators for one another during both formal and informal excursions in Nicosia and Cyprus.

This course fulfills the Literature and Arts (LA) general education requirement.

Conflict, Borders, Multilingualism, Translation is co-sponsored by the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies.