Every Sunday (Morning). Transnational Social Storefronts in Nicosia, Cyprus



transnational social spaces, nicosia, cyprus, migrant spaces, cohabitation




Since the mid-1960s, and more permanently following the armed conflict of 1974, the island of Cyprus and its capital city, Nicosia, have been separated by the UN-controlled "Green Line," a physical buffer zone dividing the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities. Due to its disputed and uncertain status, the Green Line is regarded as one of the most vulnerable and "marginal" areas in Cyprus and Nicosia. At the urban level, the spaces and neighborhoods along the buffer zone, once a lively interface among various communities, now serve as tangible reminders of the division while simultaneously presenting opportunities for envisioning a future reunited city. 

Amid these fragile, liminal, and "peripheral" conditions, numerous unused and abandoned buildings in Nicosia have become platforms for transnational communities, including migrant workers, entrepreneurs, refugees, and asylum seekers, to re-appropriate spaces. Particularly in neighborhoods near the Green Line, these "new inhabitants" have transformed entire buildings, ground floor storefronts, semi-private and public spaces, seeking affordable housing solutions and engaging in collective and social activities such as human rights advocacy, religious worship, and commerce.
Some of these spaces act as bridges between the public and domestic sphere, fostering connections between long-time residents and newcomers, while others remain "invisible" until Sunday mornings when a multicultural soundscape, influenced by a blend of religious and leisure practices, reveals their purpose.

Over time, this process has given rise to new social spaces and practices within the walled city, gradually showcasing the potential of the Green Line and its surroundings as a multiethnic "urban knot." Similar forms of re-appropriation and re-use of existing built environments, vacant lands, and public spaces are observable on both sides of the city, driven by the initiatives of creative communities, youth and female entrepreneurship, human rights, and LGBTQI+ activism, as well as migrant-led organizations.

Drawing from empirical evidence and on-site observations, this paper seeks to articulate a narrative concerning Nicosia's "transnational social spaces," as conceptualized by social scientist Thomas Feist. Emphasizing their significance as interfaces connecting diverse communities and populations, these spaces possess the potential to embrace a spectrum of meanings and practices related to inhabitation and coexistence within a contested and fragile urban context.