in From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780226534657
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226534640 | DOI:

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter discusses the ramifications of political renaming in two persistent trouble spots: Cyprus and Israel. Most of Cyprus's residents speak Greek, write with Greek letters, and observe Greek orthodox traditions, whereas a prominent minority speaks Turkish, uses a 29-letter Roman alphabet with diacritical marks, and worships in mosques. In both Cyprus and Israel, toponymy acquires a special significance when ethnic groups with different languages covet the same territory. Plastered across a country's maps, place names assert ownership, legitimize conquest, and flaunt control. To the victor goes the toponymy along with other spoils of war. But as Palestinian websites demonstrate, the losing side can make its own maps, designed to refresh memory, sustain dreams, and reinforce resentment. Essential for identifying places, geographic names possess a symbolic power that can inflame and claim.

Keywords: political renaming; Greek; Cyprus; Israel; diacritical marks; toponymy

Chapter.  5115 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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