Justine Andrews: Latin Architecture in Fourteenth-Century Cyprus

The following paper will be delivered as part of Questioning Geographies and Temporalities: Postcolonizing Medieval Art on February 12th, at the College Art Association’s 98th Annual Conference in Chicago.

Post-Crusade and Postcolonial: Latin Architecture in Fourteenth-Century Cyprus

Justine Andrews, University of New Mexico

The surviving Latin churches of Cyprus, perhaps now more than ever, are being placed within the mythic memory of Cyprus as a European nation. For the Middle Ages, however, there never was a collective identity that inserted Cyprus and its monuments into a continuous narrative of European imagery and politics. This paper suggests that the island’s diverse local population viewed these grand cathedrals not in relation to western models but as reflections of the importance, diversity, and power of their own island. Varied aspects of the colonial experience are present in the architectural forms of both Famagusta and Nicosia, including the conflict between Latin king and Latin bishop; the assimilation of aspects of local culture; and the economic power of the commercial communities. The monuments are considered within their historical environment, which included conflict but also diversity that unfolded in a narrative distinct from notions of nationhood or western hegemony.