Being Between: Thinking with Peter Loizos’ Legacy
Dr Rebecca Bryant
Friday 8 March 2013 at 6.30 p.m. London School of Economics
European Institute, Lecture Room 1, Ground floor, Tower 1, Clements’ Inn, London WC2A 2AE
Chaired by Dr Jonathan Parry, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, and Peter Loizos’ colleague and friend.
Throughout his career, Peter Loizos articulated discomfort with his role as a Cypriot ‘insider’ who was expected, as an anthropologist, to behave like an ‘outsider’. He expressed this in numerous ways, from his sensitive photographic and cinematographic studies, which aimed primarily to document a time and place that would soon be lost, to later essays and interviews in which he discussed the limits of engagement with and disengagement from the field. Early on, the division of the island and the displacement of his kin shaped the direction of his research and writing, as he struggled to represent what he had witnessed. At the beginning of The Heart Grown Bitter, Loizos’s second book, he says that the work has two aims: to record the experience of displacement and ‘to commemorate the village of Argaki and its people.’ He also explains that the writing is in a more personal tone, ‘because the formal impersonality of The Greek Gift [his first book] seemed inappropriate for the subject matter of this book.’ In other words, the conventions of anthropological writing were inadequate to represent tragedy.
This lecture takes as its subject the problem of anthropological knowledge and its representation during conflict. Moving between reflections on Loizos’s work and the author’s own fieldwork in Cyprus, the lecture explores the ‘between-ness’ that constitutes the ethnographic endeavour. Unlike other social science disciplines, the methods of anthropology bring one close to one’s interlocutors, making one both inside and outside the group, a situation that is especially complicated by conflict: the duty to let one’s informants speak, and the responsibility to speak in ways that may undermine their testimony. The lecture discusses how we can understand the type of knowledge that arises from such situations, as well the problems of its representation for the discipline.
Rebecca Bryant is A. N. Hadjiyannis Senior Research Fellow in the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is an anthropologist of politics and law whose work has focused on ethnic conflict and displacement, border practices, transitional justice, and contested sovereignty on both sides of the Cyprus Green Line, as well as in Greece and Turkey. She has held positions at George Mason University and Cornell University in the U.S, the American University in Cairo, and Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. She is the author of:
Imagining the Modern: The Cultures of Nationalism in Cyprus (I.B. Tauris, 2004) and The Past in Pieces: Belonging in the New Cyprus (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), as well as co-editor of Cyprus and the Politics of Memory: History, Community, and Conflict (London: I.B. Tauris, 2012) and editor of the forthcoming Shared Spaces and their Dissolution: Practices of Coexistence in the Post-Ottoman Sphere.
Peter Loizos was an advisor and mentor from the beginning of her research in Cyprus until his death.
ASSOCIATION FOR CYPRIOT, GREEK & TURKISH AFFAIRS
Chairman: Demetri Roussounis General Secretary: Zenon Stavrinides
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