Confronting the 'Post-Conflict’ Label: An Exploration of Ethno-Sectarian Identity in Northern Ireland and Cyprus

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Ghosts of conflict haunt many societies around the world. In those that remain divided, sectarian sentiment governs societal norms and structures. Assigning the 'post-conflict' label to these societies marginalizes the need to actively work towards reconciliation between opposing communities. It also creates a hierarchical perception of suffering by dismissing experiences of first-hand and trans-generational trauma. This thesis aims to challenge the 'post-conflict' label by extending the popular definition of violence past that of bloodshed to one that encompasses representational forms of violence. I will explore patterns of representational violence in societies divided along ethnic lines through the lens of Northern Ireland and Cyprus. These case studies will be placed side by side to demonstrate the shared patterns that enable sectarian sentiment to perpetuate and resurface throughout time. Both Northern Ireland and Cyprus are considered 'post-conflict' on the basis of treating their most recent eras of violence, the Troubles and the Cyprus Problem respectively, as isolated historical events. These are not isolated events, but parts of much larger conflicts driven by centuries-old Irish-British and Greek-Turkish rivalries. In the first chapter, I will outline legacies of Greek-Turkish and Irish-British tension. In the second chapter, I will explore the heroic and villainous archetypes that perpetuate ethno-sectarianism in Northern Ireland and Cyprus. In the third chapter, I will explore present-day spatial and mental divisions that inhibit interaction between opposing communities and harden existing ethno-sectarian tensions. The patterns revealed in Northern Ireland and Cyprus may aid in understanding the social practices of divided societies around the world.





Brody, Laura (2016). Confronting the 'Post-Conflict’ Label: An Exploration of Ethno-Sectarian Identity in Northern Ireland and Cyprus. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

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