Illustrate how recent work on violence in Northern Ireland and Cyprus has focussed on ‘the body’.
Keywords Agency; anthropology of the body; feminism; resistance; state power. AbstractThis essay takes its material from the politically contested territories of Cyprus and Northern Ireland, where state power is played out on bodies,but people reclaim agency using those same bodies. The Northern IrishRepublican Prisoners’ Dirty Protest seemed a natural reaction to havingtheir bodies turned inside out by strip searches going into every bodyorifice. Necessarily including menstrual blood, the women prisoners‘protest challenged views of proper female behaviour, forcing a re-definition of feminism. In Cyprus, the state denied the existence of bodiesfrom the 1974 Turkish invasion, thus denying the finality of the island’sseparation. Women reclaimed their agency in demanding their loved onesbe exhumed. The more restrictions are placed, the more important thebody becomes in playing out the narratives of the different sides.Bits of alternatives:Whether, reacting to extremely invasive strip searches, male Republicanprisoners turned their bodies inside out by smearing excrement on cellwalls, or women prisoners redefined feminism since their menstrual bloodtriggered a debate of sexism in prisons and republicanism, or teenagersflash at surveillance cameras, the Northern Irish case shows that statepowers can never be quite sure that their message will not be subverted.The Dirty Protest of male prisoners turned their bodies inside out inreaction to extremely invasive strip searches; the women's menstrualblood triggered a debate on sexist structures of both prisons andnationalism; teenagers in Derry mocked surveillance cameras by flashing.In all three, the Northern Irish case shows ...
IntroductionMichael Herzfeld states that, since national and global focusentered anthropology, there has been a need to study ‘body andperson’; particularly the nation-state grounds its power in ‘theembodied person’ (1995:124)
.This essay aims to show some links between politics, power and‘the body’, how anthropologists have looked at the symbolism andmeanings attributed to the body by various actors in NorthernIreland and Cyprus, both of them politically contested territories.
1 In a different context in his book
A Time of Gifts
, the first part of his tale of walking to Constantinople, Patrick Leigh Fermor shows the reach of the Nazi state into its citizens’ bodies by describing a street scene in 1934 Munich.People there seemed to be overcome by a bodily tic, namely that of the ‘Heil’-salute – presumably, it was too riskynot to raise one’s hand to the Fuhrer, even if, personally, he was nowhere near.