History's remainders

On time and objects after conflict in Cyprus

by Rebecca Bryant

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In the aftermath of war, those who remain must rebuild lives in spaces that bear the scars of conflict. This essay focuses on one such space, the unrecognized state in north Cyprus, which has experienced waves of displacement, ethnic cleansing, and the appropriation and redistribution of “enemy” property. Families raise children in plundered spaces; grandchildren play in gardens replanted after war; houses are furnished with the remains of others’ lives. In such contexts, the questions of what belongs to whom, and who belongs where, or with whom, are particularly contested, while the future of these places and objects remains uncertain. This essay asks what everyday historical work may be done with looted homes and objects, and it shows how practices with and stories about belongings may also be ways of helping us to “belong” in history.