Media practice as a form of spatial conversation and political fortification: Occupying the Buffer Zone

Following the emergence of the Occupy movement in 2011 in New York, several sites across the world took form. One less known, perhaps, sprout of the Occupy movement, was the formation of the Occupy Buffer Zone movement (OBZ) in the last divided capital of the world, Nicosia, of the island of Cyprus. Situated within the fortified Venetian walls of the old city, Cypriots from either side of the Buffer Zone, north and south, gathered and lived between the checkpoints of the legally invalid Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus (RoC). Over its time, within and from the Buffer Zone, the OBZ came into direct and indirect contact with the forces of the TRNC, the RoC, and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

Coming from pilot fieldwork during the OBZ, this paper will narrate and examine fragments from the 7-month trajectory of the OBZ via its negotiating practices of media activism with these forces in defending its occupation of the Buffer Zone. Here I will consider the banners, leaflets and articles (digital or physical) produced by the OBZ as positions of political conversation and fortification. That is to say, the paper will look into the impact of the political banners in their strategic positions within the space of the Buffer Zone, in speaking to and defending from these three forces (e.g. anti-nationalist banner facing the south) with the force’s response, and the use of written argumentation as a mechanism to deploy a form of fortification through leaflets and articles by the OBZ. Further on, I will connect these settings of fortification on-site with the wider arena of the public media sphere, to demonstrate that the lacunae between on-site and public media access would suggest a political implication.


Petros Siammas