Patterns of Politics and Kinship in a Greek Cypriot Community, 1920-1980

Change log
Sant Cassia, Paul 

This thesis examines the changing patterns of politics and Kinship in a Greek-Cypriot village in Paphos, Cyprus, between 1920 and 1980. It seeks to show that patterns of political organization in the periphery can only be properly understood with reference to the role of kinship and the nature of property transmissions within the family. In analysing the political organization of Mediterranean communities and their integration with the wider society it is important to treat kinship not as a dependent variable but as an institution exerting an influence in its own right.

Changes in the mode of property transmission from inheritance to dowry are analysed. The investment of marriage with a more pronounced property component has not only shifted its significance and given it a more pronounced symbolism per se, but have also affected the types of political links available. The dominant political ties in 1920 were of an intergenerational type and agnatic links; in 1980 they are mainly intre-generational links between affines and fictional kin.

The pattern of politics between 1920 and 1980 is then examined against the background of Greek nationalism, the Church and the wider society. The phenomenon of factionalism which characterises this period is approached by reference to the State (including the Colonial State), political parties, and the Church. Political organization in the pre-1960 period centred around merchant-moneylenders and the church’s representatives in charge of the vast areas of church owned land which was leased to villagers. The predominant form of political organization was the vertical dyadic link between patron and client. Local patrons often entered into loose coalitions either to protect their credit or marketing monopolies or to prevent the emergence of horizontal class organization. Around 1960 radical changes occured: leftists established marketing co-operatives breaking the merchant monopoly, the church sold most of its land to the villagers, new cash crops were planted, and new political elites emerged out of the 1955-59 EOKA struggle. Their power lies mainly in their control of access to important national politicians, State resources and the readiness to use violence, rather than in control over scarce credit and land. Nevertheless factional conflict has become more intense. This is brought out in an analysis of local elections where the electorate, in the space of a few days, first elected a right-wing coalition and then proceeded to elect leftists a few days later.

Finally, it is suggested that the increasing importance of the family as a property holding institution, and the significance of marriage as an alliance-forming mechanism, exert an important influence upon political organization. For, whereas the village was previously a religious institution and political organization centred around the Church, contemporary political organization centres more visibly around the real and fictional kinship bonds established by individuals in pursuing their strategies.

How far these kinship bonds will be used as a basis of political organization in the village will depend upon the ability of parties to establish enduring institutional links in the periphery which will in turn affect the solitarity of the family.

Goody, Jack
Politics, Kinship, Paphos, Cyprus, Politics, Greek-Cypriot, Peyia
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge