‘OccupyBufferZone’: practices of borderline resistance in a space of exception

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Abstract

This article focuses on the practices of resistance organised by a group of Cypriot activists in the Buffer Zone that separates the island of Cyprus into two sovereign entities, the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Being a space where the territorialising norm of these two entities is suspended, the Buffer Zone constitutes a space of exception. By drawing on a post-colonial reading of this Agambenian notion, the article analyses the specifics of a ‘terrain of resistance’ deliberately located in the exception. It argues that rather than being a dispossessing condition, the exception might actually be empowering, because it offers the activists a terrain from which to contest the very norm that they are escaping. The article also critically reflects on the limits of this tactic, by revealing how power might adopt counter-exceptions aimed at reterritorialising exceptional spaces that no longer work to its advantage. The OccupyBufferZone (OBZ) experience also allows for a series of theoretical considerations that can illuminate further the notion of ‘terrain of resistance’.

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