U.S. Military Academy-West Point
In April 1955, Archbishop Makarios III—head of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus—arrived at the airport in Bandung, Indonesia to little fanfare. The real excitement, in the form of the first Asian-African Conference, was already underway. Representatives from twenty-nine newly independent African and Asian states attended the Bandung Conference. Many of the major personalities of what would later become known as the “Third World” and the Non-Aligned Movement—such as India’s Jawaharlal Nehru and Egyptian President Gamal Adbel Nasser—dominated the proceedings. Attendees straddled both sides of the Cold War divide, and tensions between the political Left and Right emerged as a key topic of discussion at the conference. The other major point of discussion was colonialism. It was this topic that most concerned Archbishop Makarios.
But Makarios was not from the “Third World,” nor did he represent a newly independent state. He was the only European leader to attend the conference and Cyprus was the only colony represented. Besides, Makarios and his fellow Greek-Cypriot anticolonial nationalists did not seek independence at all, but rather the union of Cyprus with Greece—an idea called enosis. This desire for enosis drew significant support from the conservative yet politically-active Greek Orthodox clergy, which colonial officials viewed as an unlikely group of revolutionaries. As one scholar has noted, “that such a political movement was led by an Archbishop, and backed by priests, was viewed in many British circles . . . as little short of weird.”
Makarios’s presence at Bandung and the enosis movement challenge historians to reconsider the standard assumption that anticolonial nationalism was an Asian and African phenomenon in which the ultimate goal was the creation of independent states. Continue reading “Defying Decolonization: Anticolonial Nationalism and the Greek-Cypriot Liberation Movement”