Cyprus’ location near Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Gaza Strip, and Egypt place it inside the cradle of western civilization and astride several of the hot-spot vectors of the modern day Middle East. The Republic of Cyprus is partitioned into a southern area under control of the Republic, and a northern area administered by a self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, officially recognized only by Turkey. The international community considers the northern part of the island as territory of the Republic of Cyprus occupied by Turkish forces since 1974, and viewed as illegal under international law.
In his travels across Cyprus, Kenyon College scholar Peter Rutkoff encountered the physical signs of the divide in sandbags and barbed wire, and the emotional scars of people displaced from their homes and history by an unsettled, long-standing political division. With reunification talks underway, the island of Cyprus is seeing positive steps towards resolution of this conflict, while still suffering from its lingering pathology. Cutting through these issues with personal inquiry into its sources, Rutkoff found deep sensitivities to the use of language in describing the political actors and the historical causes of the conflict. Taking care to sidestep these sensitivities, he found receptivity to progress among young and old alike, and deep wells of hope on both sides for a return to normalcy. But as with any post-colonial conflict, movements forward are stutter-steps, demanding sacrifice on all sides and a willingness to abandon old resentments. Rutkoff was able to draw on recent U.S. history and popular culture to engage his Cypriot students and friends in illuminating dialogue about their own history and future prospects, forging bonds that informed his own understanding of Cyprus and that of Cypriots on both sides of the Green Line.by