"What Was My War Like?": Missing Pages from the Gendered History of War in Cyprus


Özkaleli, Umut, and Ömür Yilmaz. 2015. “‘What Was My War Like?’: Missing Pages from the Gendered History of War in Cyprus.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (1): 137–56. doi:10.1080/14616742.2013.833700.

Authors: Umut Özkaleli, Ömür Yilmaz


This paper aims to uncover Turkish Cypriot women's war experiences and integrate that knowledge into the public discourse. We argue that the omission of women's war experiences thus far has served to sustain the mutually reinforcing alliance between patriarchy and nationalism, which we call patriarchal nationalism. Building on feminist standpoint theory, deconstruction of the official and hegemonic ‘his'tory of war poses challenges to the stronghold of patriarchy and ethnic nationalism in society by engaging women in the re-construction of history. Narratives of twenty women from different regions and backgrounds revealed common experiences that have been systematically silenced, memories that have been socially forgotten but could not be erased despite the dominant discourse that has denied their existence for decades. These experiences defy images of the ethno-national Glorious Self, protected by heroic and righteous men, and the Villainous Other. They also identify types of insecurity and victimization that have been excluded from traditional, gendered definitions of security. As these narratives contest fundamental tenets of patriarchy and nationalism, their contributions to the reconstruction of ‘reality’ and history carry prospects for the transformation of both gender and ethnic relations.

Keywords: gender, memory, war history, Cyprus, security, women's narratives

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Nationalism, Political Participation, Post-Conflict Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, Europe Countries: Cyprus, Turkey

Year: 2015

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