Murat Erdal Ilican


As a response to the call of the global Occupy Movement in 2011, a number of people occupied the Cypriot no-man’s land in the UN-controlled Buffer Zone of the capital Nicosia, a space that has historically divided the two ethnic communities, in the old part of town since the late 1950s. The re-insertion of human life on the border, in the midst of derelict buildings, barbed wire and under the watchful eyes of contesting sovereignties came under scrutiny and was contested by various actors in 2011 and 2012. The article is an ethnographic study of the Occupy Buffer Zone (OBZ) movement, which explores these contestations. It traces the development of OBZ from a small anti-authoritarian group to a movement that momentarily gained the support of various anti-establishment and anti-capitalist groups and individuals and its eventual dissolution after a violent police raid. In doing so it shows how a space for alternative politics was opened up, as well as the limits that claim to space hit upon.



Occupy movement, Cyprus, Buffer Zone, resistance, sovereignty, animal-human, anti-authoritarianism, anarchists, property

Agamben, G. (2004) The Open: Man and Animal. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Agamben, G. (2005) State of Exception. Translated by K. Attell. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Christodoulidou, T. (2008) ‘The Legal Status of the Buffer Zone in Cyprus’, The Cyprus Review, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 115–126.

Cohn, B.S. (1996) Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Constantinou, C.M. (2008) ‘On the Cypriot States of Exception. International Political Sociology’, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 145–164.

Constantinou, C.M. (2010) ‘Cypriot In-dependence and the Problem of Sovereignty’, The Cyprus Review, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 17–33.

Constantinou, C.M. and Richmond, O.P. (2005) ‘The Long Mile of Empire: Power, Legitimation and the UK Bases in Cyprus’, Mediterranean Politics, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 65–84.

Dirks, N.B. (2006) The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Douglas, M. (2002 [1966]) Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. Abingdon: Routledge Classics.

Drousiotis, M. (2005) EOKA. Karanlık Yon [EOKA. The Dark Side]. Nicosia: Galeri Kultur.

Drousiotis, M. (2006) Kıbrıs 1970–1974: EOKA B, Yunan Darbesi ve Türk İstilası [Cyprus 1970–1974: EOKA B, the Greek Coup and the Turkish Occupation]. Nicosia: Galeri Kültür.

Drousiotis, M. (2008) The First Partition: Cyprus 1963–1964. Nicosia: Alfadi Publications.

Egemen, S. (2006) Kıbrıslı Türkler Arasında Siyasi Liderlik [Political Leadership amongst the Turkish-Cypriots]. Nicosia: Ateş Matbaacılik Ltd.

Erdal-Ilican, M. (2011) ‘The Making of Sovereignty through changing Property/Land Rights and the Contestation of Authority in Cyprus’. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Oxford, UK.

Mazower, M. (1998) Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century. New York: Vintage Books.

Mitchell, T. (1988) Colonising Egypt. London: Cambridge University Press.

Oliver, K. (2007) ‘Stopping the Anthropological Machine: Agamben with Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty’, PhaenEx, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 1–23.

Satia, P. (2008) Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain’s Covert Empire in the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schmitt, C. (2005 [1922]) Political Theology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Scheper-Hughes, N. (2007) ‘Violence and the Politics of Remorse: Lessons from South Africa’, in Biehl, J., Good, B. and Kleinman, A. (eds),
Subjectivity: Ethnographic Investigations, Part II. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 179–233.

Scott, J.C. (1998) Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Swyngedouw, E. (1997) ‘Neither Global Nor Local: “Globalization and the Politics of Scale”’, in Cox, K.R. (ed.), Spaces of Globalization: Reasserting the Power of the Local. New York: The Guilford Press, pp. 137–166.

Swyngedouw, E. and Kaika, M. (2003) ‘The Making of “Glocal” Urban Modernities: Exploring the Cracks in the Mirror’, City, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 5–21.

Teschke, B. (2003) The Myth of 1648: Class, Geopolitics and the Making of Modern International Relations. London: Verso.

Toohey, P. (2011) Boredom: A Lively History. London: Yale University Press.

Žižek, S. (2012) The Year of Dreaming Dangerously. London: Verso


ANT1 TV news, 7 April 2012, ‘Όλα τα βίντεο των συμπλοκών στη Λήδρας [All the videos of the Ledra street clashes]. Available at [http://www.ant1iwo.com/kypros/2012/04/08/ola-ta-ninteo-twn-symplokwn-sth-lhdras-v/], accessed on 12 May 2013.

Hajimichael, M. and others (2012) on SoundCloud, ‘For 1 Gramme of Cannabis the Police tried to Kill the Peace in Cyprus’. Available at [http://soundcloud.com/hajimike/for-1-gramme], accessed on 12 May 2013.


Cyprus Mail, ‘We’re living the Cyprus solution’, 14 April 2012.

Kibris, ‘Büyük tepki gördü’ [It attracted strong reaction], 7 April 2012.

Politis, ‘Ούτε βαρόνοι να ‘ηταν’ [As if they were (drug) lords], 10 April 2012.

Sunday Mail, ‘Tensions high after night raid’, 8 April 2012.

How to Cite

“The Occupy Buffer Zone Movement: Radicalism and Sovereignty in Cyprus”. 2017. Cyprus Review 25 (1): 55-80. https://cyprusreview.org/index.php/cr/article/view/121.