Forced migration and the prospects for transitional justice in Cyprus

Transitional justice, or measures that come to terms with legacies of mass violence, have become important means for societies to heal the scars left by conflict or state repression, and to mend rifts created within societies between victims and perpetrators of violence. Until very recently, however, forced migration was not a specific focus of transitional justice measures, and only within the past several years has a transitional justice literature begun to emerge that takes the complexities of displacement into account. This presentation will use the potential of a negotiated solution to the Cyprus conflict to think about the relationship between forced migration and transitional justice, especially the role transitional justice may or should play in the displaced persons’ potential return to their homes. The paper will argue that Cyprus shows us a gap in transitional justice practice insofar as it has not been adequately able to account for material harms, especially the loss of both property and place associated with forced displacement. Using ethnography from a formerly mixed town from which both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots experienced displacement, the paper will probe the possibilities for transitional justice measures as a means to come to terms with the shattering of communities and aid in the process of return and remixing.