The late Andreas Sophocleous discussed with the author many British colonial texts, from John Thomson’s photos (1878) to Lawrence Durrell’s prose in Bitter Lemons (1957). The documentary, Cyprus is an Island (1946), by Laurie Lee and Ralph Keene, intrigued us, since little had been written about it and its accompanying book We Made a Film in Cyprus (1947). This essay, in tribute to Andreas, considers the value of ethnography in the articulation of ‘lived stories’ about texts and experiences of the past. This is far from trivialising British colonialism in Cyprus (1878-1960). As a discourse (and a system) of dominance and subjugation, colonialism needed texts (travelogues, documentaries, commentaries, photographic works or novels) to justify it ideologically, politically, and morally. These discursive endeavours represent forms of propaganda, from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’. Seldom studied is the interaction between ‘makers’ (in this case film documentary) and participants (the filmed or framed subjects). Ethnography is one way to explore this through the concept of history as ‘lived experience’, to be invoked through inquiry.
colonial texts, documentary, Cyprus, discourse, ethnography, lived text, Laurie Lee
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