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The contrasting concepts of refugee transition and the myth of return are used to investigate some of the strategies and processes by which refugees adjust to the meaning of exile, the dilemmas of their status and, especially, the meaning of home. The paper is based on longitudinal data collected over the last decade from Greek-Cypriot refugee households in Cyprus. The paper argues that refugees seek to retain, to a greater por lesser degree, the social and cultural attributes of the past, whilst adjusting to future needs in exile and aspirations of return. This relationship is mediated by the present conditions of exile—refugee assistance programmes and the political discussions about return. Since the refugees are cut off from the material and symbolic representation of the past, this is reconstructed and preserved in a mythical form which becomes the basis for subsequent strategies of adjustment and transition examined in the paper. Two contrasting positions are suggested—‘reproduction’ of the myth and ‘replacement’ of the myth—which are associated with contrasting aspirations of ‘belief’ in return and ‘hope’ of return. The pape examines some of the consequences of the strategies used to reconstruct the triangular relationship between the pase, the future and the present.

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Journal article


Oxford University Press

Publication Date



12 (1)


1 - 22