Pilgrimage, Heritage and Politics in a Divided Society

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:50
Oral Presentation
Evgenia MESARITOU, University of Toronto, Canada, University of Cyprus, Cyprus
This paper will explore how religion, politics and heritage intersect in the deeply divided Cypriot society by examining one of its most important pilgrimage centres: the Christian-Orthodox monastery of Apostle Andreas. The monastery is a significant container of cultural heritage and is visited mainly by Greek-Cypriots (G/C) but also, although to a lesser degree, by Turkish-Cypriots (T/C). After the island's division in 1974, the monastery was rendered largely inaccesible to the G/C only to be reinstated as a popular pilgrimage destination in 2003 when the opening of the checkpoints made it possible for the G/C and the T/C, respectively residing in the island's southern and northern parts, to cross the dividing line. The revival of the pilgrimages, as well as the restoration works that began in 2014 with the involvement of both the G/C and the T/C communities, indicate and help to mold the shrine's continued salience. The paper makes use of ethnographic data deriving from in-depth interviews with pilgrims and participant observation of their journeys, in order to examine the revival of the pilgrimage in conditions of ongoing division. Focusing upon G/C pilgrims, it explores the impact of violent and ideological conflict upon different groups of pilgrims (i.e. refugees, people born before and after 1974); their motives, their constructions of and the meanings ascribed to the journey and the site. The paper will therefore look at the ways in which pilgrimages are affected by conflict, as well as their role in reshaping worlds dislocated (Jansen 2012: 10-11) owing to refugeedom and displacement.

Jansen, W. 2012. 'Old Routes, New Journeys: Reshaping Gender, Nation and Religion in European Pilgrimage,' in Gender, Nation and Religion in European Pilgrimage, ed. by W. Jansen and C. Notermans. Surrey: Ashgate (pp. 1-19)