Space or Place?

As discussed in class, space is a rather arduous concept to comprehend. Together with being a physical entity, space can also have pertinence, whether it is emotional or historical, to particular individuals, rendering this space into a specific place. As demonstrated by Rabia Harmanşah, an anthropologist who conducted research upon shared religious places of both the Orthodox Christian and Muslim communities, space often has different meanings and connotations to diverse assemblages of people.

Dedicating the vast majority of her time on studying Cyprus, Harmanşah promptly realized the conflicting sentimentalities regarding the specific site. After meeting with a Greek Cypriot, who elaborated upon the imperativeness of preserving a small church, she felt compelled to assist him in the aforementioned process. However, certain Turkish Cyrpriots voiced their concerns of reestablishing the church, as it posed to a threat to their people.

Demonstrated by the thorough ethnographic on Cyprus, space is deemed important, or unimportant for that matter, contingent upon the people assessing it. For both the Christian and Muslim community, specific locations throughout Cyprus had both cultural and religious significance to them. Furthermore, the two groups sometime found importance of particular sites, but for different, and sometimes, contrasting reasons.

 As I read Harmanşah’s Fieldwork in Contested Places, I became cognizant of various similarities with the guest lecture we had a couple weeks ago. Together with the current scenario in Maine presented in the guest lecture, Cyprus’ present-day situation confirms the anthropological notion that space can be perceived differently to various individuals.

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