Elena Koumna

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jim Butterfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Gunther Hega

Third Advisor

Dr. William Ritchie

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Discussions of Greek Cypriot identity have conventionally been dominated by primordial arguments, contributing to the creation and maintenance of stereotypes and mythologies about the ethnic conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. In order to examine the validity of the primordial thesis, modernist and constructionist approaches on nationalism and identity are considered (Gellner 1983; Hobsbawm 1990; Anderson 1991; Hroch 1985; Smith 1991). Nationalism and identity formation are analyzed in the context of"stages," where the social composition of each stage and the degree of modernization are examined. The findings of the thesis largely support the hypotheses that pinpoint the articulation of Greek Cypriot national identity at the end of the 19th century. Thus, nationalism in Cyprus is a relatively 7 recent phenomenon that developed unevenly, and in which a national elite played an J important role in articulating identity and preparing the ground for the formation of the movement. Moreover, nationalism was closely associated with social change and modernization processes. Gellner and Hroch offered the most useful models for the examination of two key periods in Cypriot history. The Ottoman period closely corresponds to Gellner' s "pre-industrial" society in which conditions do not facilitate the development of nationalism and ethnic consciousness, while Hroch's Phase B captures the importance of a new set of actors who actively seek to mobilize ethnic consciousness among the masses, a period in Cypriot history that corresponds roughly to the early British colonial period at the end of the last century.