Call for Papers – The Cyprus Review (2019 Volume)

 The Cyprus Review invites submissions for a Special Section of the Review:

The Sociologist Caesar Mavratsas: Cypriot Society, Postcoloniality, Modernity and Identity

Guest editor: Nicos Trimikliniotis

Deadline: 25 May 2019

 This special issue section will be in honour of the Cypriot sociologist Caesar Mavratsas, who passed away in 2017, following a battle with cancer, at the age of 54, and had served as editor of the Review for a couple of years in the ’90s. Mavratsas was one of the first Professors of Sociology at the Department of Social and Political Sciences in the newly established University of Cyprus. He had 23 creative years.

Witty, provocative, and generous, with a keen intellect and questioning mind, he combined a good sense of humour in his sociological imagination. This made him hugely popular with students and colleagues at the University of Cyprus – but also controversial. His sociology focused on Greek Cypriot political culture, identity, diaspora and nationalism. Born in Famagusta, Mavratsas went to Boston University to study philosophy and sociology and graduated in 1993. Mavratsas wrote several well-regarded books on Cypriot society and published many articles in Cypriot, Greek, British, American, Canadian and French academic journals, while substantial parts of his work were translated into Turkish and German. He was keen to open debates in society well beyond the confines of the ‘ivory tower’ of academia and to develop social questioning through critical thinking. Deeply influenced by his Professor, Peter Berger (Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Approach), Mavratsas wanted a science that encourages a better understanding of the human society in order to improve it. In recent years, despite his unequal battle with cancer, he continued to publish regularly his column for the daily newspaper Politis.

Mavratsas significantly contributed to the development of Cypriot sociology. He was a follower of Max Weber's sociological school; an important influence, apart from Berger’s social constructionism, was Ernest Gellner’s work on national and civil society. Near the end of his life he was interested in revisiting the debate between sociology and biology.

He witnessed the transformation of Cypriot society during the first decades after the devastation of the coup, the invasion and violent partition of 1974: this was conditioned by rapid economic growth after the disastrous division. During the 1980s and 1990s, global sociological concerns were dominated with issues of identity and Mavratsas amongst other sociologists, anthropologists and intellectuals sought to locate Cyprus in these global debates. His PhD studied the economic ethos of Greek Cypriot immigrants in America. Twenty years ago, Mavratsas’ first monograph in Greek examined the potential for modernization of Cypriot society. Based on his observation of Greek Cypriot modernization, civil society, nationalism and identity, he coined the term ‘clientelistic corporatism’ as a key feature of Cypriot society. He hoped that what he regarded as ‘deficient modernization’ would eventually overcome the distortions from irrationalism induced by traditionalism and nationalism, investing in Max Weber’s charismatic forms of power (Mavratsas, 1998).[1] Five years later, in his second monograph, when these hopes did not materialize, he wrote about the ‘atrophy of the Cypriot society’, however he was still optimistic that accession to the EU, the resolution of the Cyprus problem, as well as broader modernization processes inherent in the Weberian model, would eventually prevail (Mavratsas, 2003).[2] He was one of the most articulate advocates of the ‘deficient modernization thesis’, as regards Greek-Cypriot society. Over the next decade, matters proved much more complicated than what he had anticipated – Cyprus acceded to the EU but there was no solution to the Cyprus problem. His next book proved to be a best-seller: he spoke about the ‘the cultural and political underdevelopment of Greek Cypriots at the beginning of the 21st century’.[3] He used the term ‘horkatos’ («χώρκατος») in the book title, a derogatory term derived from a popular humorous Greek Cypriot series ‘Vourate Geitonoi’ («Βουράτε Γειτόνοι»). The term derives from the word ‘horiatis’ (χωριάτης) which means ‘villager’, but Mavratsas insisted that this is a caricature to mock ill-mannered racists and sexists, and attitudes which negate everything that is ‘modern’ and ‘civilised’: the archetype of the ‘horkatos’ is the leading male character, Rikkos Mappouros, a caricature of a macho, married middle-aged man, uncouth, selfish, brutish and constantly courting and harassing young Anastasia, who is rather snobbish and looks down on villagers, despite her own village background. The book remains controversial.  

The aim of this Call is to critically take up the issues Mavratsas was working on, such as Cypriot sociology, modernization(s), Europeanism, nationalism, identity, postcoloniality, diaspora, and social prejudice and stereotypes to further the debates in Cyprus.

We invite all to contribute articles on the subjects by 25 May 2019 at the latest.

The archetype of Mavratsas ‘horkatos’, taken from the popular series (now turned to a film)

Forum Debate on the ‘Horkatos’ controversy: Cypriot modernity, identity, social distinctions and media

This section will also have a forum debate in the form of shorter papers (1500-2500 words) on the subject of critically engaging in a debate of the ‘horkatos’ term, to reflect upon media, modernity, Europeanisation, social prejudice and stereotypes in the context of the ‘deficient modernization thesis’ of Cyprus. It aims to debate issues of identity, ethnocentrism, globality, gender, social class and distinction and the role of the media in the context of Cyprus. Such debates are well-known in other settings. In fact, similar themes have been discussed with increasing intensity over the last years. When Nicola Sarkozy, then Minister of Interior, called those involved in the 2005 unrest in Clichy-sous-Bois, a large public housing estate, or banlieue, on the outskirts of Paris, ‘racaille’ and ‘voyous’, translating to ‘scum’, ‘riff-raff’ or ‘thugs’, following the deaths of two young boys fleeing the police, this hit a raw nerve across the globe. In August 2018, the current French President called those opposed to his labour reforms aiming to make it easier for employers to dismiss workers ‘Gaulois refractaires au changement’, translated in English as ‘obstinate or change-resistant Gauls’, causing an uproar.[4] Using cartoon characters Asterix and Obelix, depicting ‘primitive’ and rather silly ancient tribes roaming France more than 2000 years ago, illustrated contempt towards lower classes, the commoners, who resist any imposed reforms from above that would remove labour rights. However, the underlying antipathy towards certain social groups by the elites is not confined to those of migrant background, nor is it confined to France. Despising the ‘masses’ and the social prejudice towards ‘lower classes’, described in other derogatory terms such as ‘plebs’ or ‘chavs’ for instance in Britain,[5] have been widely discussed in academic and political debates. In Sociology, the notion of ‘cultural capital’[6] is one way of reading these issues. Notions such as ‘popular culture’ derived from Cultural studies: Stuart Hall spoke on a positive note on ‘new ethnicities’[7] as a way of opening up the debates over identity, culture, class and ethnicity in the current context of austerity, crisis and the forms of discontent. Moreover, such debates can usefully open up spaces to draw parallels in postcolonial context, which generates interesting debates in Cyprus.[8]

 [1]Mavratsas, C. (1998)  Όψεις του ελληνικού εθνικισμού στην Κύπρο, Ιδεολογικές αντιπαραθέσεις και η κοινωνική κατασκευή της ελληνοκυπριακής ταυτότητας 1974-1996, Katarti, Athens.

 [2] Mavratsas, C. (2003), Eθνική ομοψυχία και πολιτική ομοφωνία. Η ατροφία της ελληνοκυπριακής κοινωνίας των πολιτών στις απαρχές του 21ου αιώνα, Κατάρτι (National Homogeneity and Political Consensus: Atrophy of Greek Cypriot Civil Society at the Beginning of the 21st Century), Katarti, Athens. 

 [3] Mavratsas, C. (2012) Η ΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΑ ΤΩΝ ΧΩΡΚΑΤΩΝ. Η ΠΟΛΙΤΙΣΜΙΚΗ ΚΑΙ Η ΠΟΛΙΤΙΚΗ ΥΠΑΝΑΠΤΥΞΗ ΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΟΚΥΠΡΙΩΝ ΣΤΙΣ ΑΠΑΡΧΕΣ ΤΟΥ 21ου ΑΙΩΝΑ, Athens: Papazisis.

[4] Angelique Chrisafis (2018) “Macron galls French with 'change-resistant Gauls' comment”, The Guardian 30 Aug 2018. 

[5] See John Booth “Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class”, Open Democracy, 3 June 2011,  https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/chavs-demonization-of-working-class/ ; Owen Jones (2011) Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, Verso Press; Mike Savage (2015) Social Class in the 21st Century, Pelican Books. 

[6] Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Harvard University Press 1987. 

[7] See Stuart Hall, Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, edited by David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen, Routledge 1996.

[8] See the special issue of Postcolonial Studies, 2003, 9:3.