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NICOSIA – BREACHING THE DIVIDE: The Alterity of Promenade, Ruin, Time and Place

Part 1 Dissertation 2014
Elena Sorokina
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture | UK
The capital of Cyprus, Nicosia, often referred to as the ‘Last Divided Capital’, is a construction of dualities, posing political, ethical, cultural and topographical uncertainties. The city becomes a framework through which we witness the tensions between the Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot republics. Specifically, the old walled city within Nicosia, enclosed within Venetian walls is called upon as a medium through which to begin discussing these dualities. The Green Line, or ‘no man’s land’, which bisects Nicosia becomes a protagonist within this dialectic walk through Nicosia, exposing something of the dichotomies of remembering and forgetting, of everyday practices and official reconstructions of history.

This Nicosian promenade discusses a breach of the psychological and physical divisions that dominate the city primarily through a theorisation of Emmanuel Lévinas’ discussion on alterity. Four central themes: Promenade, Ruin, Time and Place form the methodology through which to discuss alterity, describing something of the Other Nicosia and the Nicosia of otherness. These themes enter into what I suggest is a realm of alterity that can be apprehended, if not fully comprehended, within the walls of the old city. This realm, I propose, is most important for engaging with the everyday practices of urban life, whilst transcending the negative tendencies of Nicosia as a divided city and Cyprus as a divided nation.

Whilst a personal trace is present within the descriptive prose and images that characterise this walk, juxtaposed with a motivation to offer the readers an experiential narrative of Nicosia, while remaining scholarly. Thus, the technique employed endeavours to be scholarly but also to appreciate the experiential, which in itself is everyday and is not necessarily preconditioned by oppositional politics. Breaching the divide, by opening up to the Other, this walk through Nicosia captures a small moment within the four themes, conveying something of the Other by moving to and then through, discussing what has been and is now gone, what is now and what was then, what is here and what is there.

Elena Sorokina

Dr. Dorian Wiszniewski
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