- When Greeks and Turks Meet: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Relationship Since 1923 ed. by Vally Lytra
The book When Greeks and Turks Meet: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Relationship Since 1923, edited by Vally Lytra, fully realizes the promise of its title. It is a multifarious, in-depth account of the most diverse implications that the Treaty of Lausanne and the Cyprus Question have had for the populations concerned. The edited volume focuses simultaneously on the fate of the people exchanged as a result of the Treaty and on those who stayed behind after its implementation. The book is organized in three parts, which comprise an introduction and 14 articles, ensuring a dynamic coherence despite the authors’ diverse yet relevant fields in the humanities and social sciences. Bringing together accounts of a wide range of disciplinary traditions and a multiplicity of perspectives, the book provides a comparative and critical account of the long-term impact of nationalisms and the political tensions in the area, especially upon specific communities and minorities. Most of the volume’s authors remind us constantly that they refer to communities and subjects with interconnected histories and overlapping memories without, however, idealizing and anachronistically normalizing a shared [End Page 410] past. These interdisciplinary, transnational, and comparative approaches, which concern a number of different ethnic and national entities, construct a creative space for understanding that the Ottoman past is not really completed but rather is alive in the national present in other forms.
The first section problematizes the discontinuities between “remembrance” and “representation” (21) of the Other. Renée Hirschon raises further questions on the missing contact between Greeks and Turks since 1923 in relation to the political tension and consolidation of stereotypes between the two antagonistic nation-states. She eloquently contrasts the powerful and affecting recollections of the first generation Asia Minor refugees with the negative images of the Other constructed within the nationalist environments of the two countries, questioning the ways in which these are implicated for the two nations’ peaceful coexistence. Similarly, Hercules Millas, through his binational and bicultural teaching experience in universities in Athens and Ankara, discusses the negative images that both Greek and Turk students have of the Other. He stresses that nationalist stereotypes of the university students about the Other are taken for granted and operate beyond their concious and cognitive knowledge, partly contributing to the vicious circle of nationalism in both countries. However, the author stresses the significance of education in relativizing national truths that have been consolidated through silence and misrepresentations.
Olga Demetriou discusses the concept of loss in the Greek-Turkish encounter in Cyprus. She argues that while loss has been a central concept in the accounts of the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922, the concept was used primarily as an indigenous term and not as an elaborated analytic frame. She provides at least three viewpoints of the loss, for understanding the Greco-Turkish encounter in Cyprus enabling more individual, deflected, and diversively nuanced meanings of the term, which are all at odds with the nationalization of history. As such, “loss” allocates more indivualized views rather than the master narrative of the nation. She concludes that “the privatisation” (60) of loss in Cyprus interrogates refugeehood as a communal experience and creates a productive space for dissensus among diverse subjects and collectivities in the center of a shared loss.
Panagiotis Poulos attempts to make sense of the reinvention of the sounds of “Old Istanbul” (84) and to elaborate the multiple readings of a shared, Ottoman musical past. Focusing on the practices, the public performances, and the reception of the musical ensemble Bosphorus in Turkey and Greece, he argues convincingly that the construction of a distinct musical category of the “Rum Composers of Istanbul” is part of the turbulent transition from the Ottoman Empire to the modern nation-states.
The second part of the book refers to “The Politics of Identity Language and Culture” and focuses on 1) the contested discourses over reconciliation processes in Cyprus and 2...