Vassos Argyrou
Professor of Social Anthropology and Cultural Theory
University of Hull, UK

Vassos Argyrou was born and raised on the island of Cyprus at a time when it was still a British colony. Although he was too young to remember what it was like to be a colonial subject, he strongly believes that it is not really possible to understand contemporary reality, whether local, national or global without taking into account the colonial period and its impact not only on ‘the Rest’, as Marshall Sahlins infamously says somewhere, but also on the West. Having grown up in the 1960s in the newly independent and soon-to-be ethnically divided post-colony, he was diligently and painstakingly taught Greek nationalism, Eurocentrism and modernism, all of which, he came to realise subsequently, are closely connected in the Greek imagination.

Having studied economics as a result of a misunderstanding and social anthropology by design, he learned his postcolonial criticism at the very heart of the erstwhile colonial power, a paradox that did not fail to register but was not examined till much later. Seduced by the prospect of no longer being a postcolonial subject, he launched into a series of critical, deconstructive studies seeking to ‘provincialize Europe’, only to realise that the more one strives to undermine power the more one is co-opted and securely bound by it. He was, therefore, forced to agree reluctantly with Foucault or, at any rate, with one of his ‘spectres’ that silence (born of indifference) may be the most subversive strategy. Still, much like Foucault and others who’ve reached a similar conclusion, he finds the desire to speak overwhelming and irresistible. Against his better judgment, he still speaks, now perhaps more than ever before. In more quiet moments he often wonders if his teenage daughter will ever find any of these concerns even remotely relevant or meaningful.