In this paper, I aim to explore my nexus with a prohibited place and its emotional meaning, reflected over a 30- year period. This exploration involves evocative autoethnography in which I discuss my process of bonding to a place. Varosha, a quarter originally built by the Greek Cypriots in Famagusta, Cyprus, was unwillingly abandoned by them after the island was fragmented in 1974. Since then, entry to this place has remained prohibited. My childhood and adolescent years were centered in this unusual geography. Varosha is known as a “ghost town” in international media, and yet, I would not define it as a specter, rather as an uncanny geography because I have experienced it as both a familiar and an unfamiliar place. In this paper, I have identified this bond as an “empathic place attachment.” I believe that emotions evoked toward a prohibited place are a rare fabric of our personal geographies that provide a new assessment of the nexus between the self and place.
Keywords: Place attachment, Autoethnography, Uncanny geography, Emotions, Varosha
Boğaç, C. (2009). Place attachment in a foreign settlement. Journal of Environmental Psychology 29. 2. pp 267–278.
This paper examines issues arising from the involuntary relocation of Turkish Cypriot refugees from the southern to the northern portion of the island of Cyprus. After the ceasefire in 1974, participants in this study were relocated into homes originally built and occupied by Greek Cypriots. Using data obtained from questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and drawings, the study analyses their place attachment under the unusual circumstances of their own forced relocation coupled with their occupation of homes abandoned by residents also displaced by war and interethnic hostility. The study compares the place attachment of refugees to their children, who were born and brought up in the new community. The results of this study suggest that participants’ future expectations shaped their attachment to their new homes and community, whilst their degree of attachment to their previous environments also played an important role in the attachment process. Younger generations, on the other hand, were more attached to their current environment than older generations; however they did not wish to be identified with their current environment.