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Macalester College

Publication Date

Fall 2006

Program Name

Cyprus: Transnational Identities and Inter-communal Relations


What is the relationship between semiotics and gay identities in the Republic of Cyprus? I initially planned to explore the complex relationship between language, and more specifically semiotics and gay male identity in Greek Cypriots. Early in my research, however, I realized that a lot of background research was required before I would be able to do this sort of in-depth analysis. In addition, after becoming aware of the deep colonial legacy left to homosexuals in Cyprus I was reluctant to use the work of European theorists to analyze a post-colonial space. I also came across a pertinent assertion of Homi Bhabha’s regarding semiotic analysis in which he says the following: Why return to the semiotician’s daydream? Why begin with ‘theory’ as story, as narrative and anecdote, rather than with the history or method? Beginning with the semiotic project—enumerating all the languages within earshot—evokes memories of the seminal influence of semiotics within our contemporary critical discourse…If you seek simply the sententious or the exegetical, you will not grasp the hybrid moment outside the sentence—not quite experience, not yet concept; part dream, part analysis; neither signifier nor signified. This intermediate space between theory and practice disrupts the disciplinary semiological demand to enumerate all the languages within earshot (Bhabha 1994). In addition to this enlightenment regarding the potential limitations of semiotics, I realized that, while my original intent was to limit the scope of my research by filtering it through a semiotic interpretation, this was too confining and unreasonable an expectation. There has not been enough written on homosexuality in Cyprus to reasonably begin a new body of research anywhere but at “square one.” The question that I was able to answer, at least in general terms, was, “What is the experience of being a gay man in Cyprus?” While this may seem like too general a question, it was necessary to understand this before looking at any one aspect of gay identity in Cyprus.


Gender and Sexuality


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