Guns and Guitars: Simulating Sovereignty in a State of Siege

Journal article

Bryant, Rebecca & Mete Hatay (2011) Guns and Guitars: Simulating Sovereignty in a State of Siege, American Ethnologist 38 (4): 631–649.

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We present an ethnographic examination of the Agambenian approach to sovereignty through the example of a particular “state of exception,” namely, the militarized Turkish Cypriot enclaves of the 1963–74 period and their transformation into an unrecognized state structure. We argue that both the enclave administration and its subsequent variations have operated under a simulacrum of sovereignty, a claim to sovereignty that is both overproduced and incomplete. We examine the emergence of this simulacrum, which we claim allowed Turkish Cypriots to play with another form of existence, one at the interstices of exceptionality. This interstitial life, we argue, is characterized by a particular form of “abandonment,” one that may allow one to “enjoy one's exception.”

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