George Iordanou Politics, Philosophy and (not much) Real Life

Multiculturalism contra Ethnicity: the case of Cyprus

In late June, I will be presenting a paper titled ‘Multiculturalism contra Ethnicity: the case of Cyprus’ at a conference organised by Surrey’s Center of Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism and UCL’s Migration Research Unit, called The Future of Multiculturalism: Structures, Integration Policies and Practices.

This is the abstract of my paper:

This paper will use the post-conflict and post-colonial multicultural challenges that exist in Cyprus to assess the use of ethnicity as a marker for cultural identification. It will be demonstrated that ethnocultural identification can become a source of social, political and linguistic oppression and as such should not be uncritically adopted in defence of group-differentiated citizenship. This hypothesis will be assessed through the example of Cyprus, where the British colonialists divided the various religious groups of the island into two ethno-national minorities, reducing the rest into religious collectives without substantial political rights. The case of Cyprus will demonstrate: (i) how the concept of ethnicity as an ‘imagined community’ can be utilised as a pretext for assimilation or social isolation; (ii) how ethnicity prioritises the continuation of the collective imaginary values over than the needs of the individual cultural members; and (iii) how ethnicity can be utilised in making religious groups socially invisible. The marginalisation of the Maronite, Latin, Armenian and Roma cultures in Cyprus demonstrates the problematic relation of ethnicity and multiculturalism since the former can be used to deny cultural and linguistic recognition to non-dominant or non-ethnic minorities and religious groups.

About the author

George Iordanou

I'm mostly interested in politics and philosophy, which makes up for the majority of this blog. As this is an archive of what I have written over the years, it also provides a glimpse into my personal life. I'm currently working in the humanitarian sector. In my past life I was in academia where I completed a Ph.D. in political theory with focus on multicultural citizenship. I'm one of the few people lucky enough to be given the opportunity to actually practice their research interests. Needless to say, whatever I write here is strictly my personal opinion and does not represent anyone else.

You can also find me on twitter @iordanou.


  • Bravo George, this sounds like a fascinating, challenging and courageous brief.
    As someone who belongs to one of the marginalised communities (Latin), I feel very strongly Cypriot, not Greek-Cyp. I am horrified and irritated by the increasing number of Cypriots who have little sense of identity other than some foolish and misplaced λατρεία of Greece! There is certainly nothing wrong with celebrating our Hellenic connections but we are not and never can be Greeks as such. A mutual friend is an example of slavish (in my opinion) worship of Greece, and I believe it is attitudes such as hers that prevent Cyprus from developing a responsible and politically mature identity.
    I really look forward to hearing/reading your paper. I don’t need to wish you luck, so I’ll simply wish you an enjoyable participation.
    :):):):):) Alma

  • Thanks Alma, I am glad that what I am arguing makes sense. Next year I might come to Cyprus for a couple of months to conduct a few interviews, and I will have you in mind 🙂

    I’ll send you the paper as soon as it is presentable.

George Iordanou Politics, Philosophy and (not much) Real Life


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