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Those who control the narrative control the future: The teaching of History in Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot schools


Lukas Perikleous

Meltem Onurkan-Samani

Gülen Onurkan-Aliusta


History education in both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot educational systems in Cyprus is dominated by ethnocentric approaches.  In the case of the former this is the idea of history education promoting a Hellenocentric narrative which aims to cultivate a Greek national identity, while in the case of the latter the promoted Turkocentric narrative seeks to cultivate a Turkish one.  In the Greek Cypriot educational system this narrative tells the story of Cyprus as part of the Greek nation and the hardships that Greek Cypriots have suffered from their enemies and especially the Turks (Perikleous, 2015a). A similar narrative in many aspects exists in the Turkish Cypriot educational system; however in this the roles are reversed (Onurkan-Samani & Tarhan, 2017). In this sense one can argue that the teaching of history in both communities is utilised as a medium not only to create a collective memory but also to antagonise one community to another. These narratives are challenged by Cyprocentric ones in both communities which support the idea of promoting a Cypriot civic identity shared by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. This article discusses aspects of history education in Cyprus during and following the British colonial rule on the island. Despite the fact that the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot educational systems evolved separately, especially after the decolonisation of the island, important similarities can be identified both in terms of their development and in terms of their current state. 


Greek Cypriot education, Turkish Cypriot education, Narratives, Hellenocentric, Turkocentric, Cyprocentric, Social engineering approach, Disciplinary approach, Social education approach

How to Cite:

Perikleous, L., Onurkan-Samani, M., & Onurkan-Aliusta, G. (2021). Those who control the narrative control the future: The teaching of history in Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot schools. Historical Encounters, 8(2), 124-139.


  • Published 6 May 2021

  • Double Blind Peer Reviewed

  • Author Retains Copyright

  • Distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License

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