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Why Alice is not in Wonderland?

Countering the Militarized status quo of Cyprus


Why Alice is not in Wonderland? Countering the militarized status quo of Cyprus is a narrative, part of the author’s diary. It is a reflection on a critical spatial practice, a performative event, titled “Alice in Meridianland… or the counter-militarization action”, part of the Buffer Fringe Performance Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus, 2019. The critical spatial practice comments on Cyprus’ actual militarization status by offering alternative urban imaginaries for the urban commons of an island without armies. It has taken place along a loop of streets and public spaces both in the north and the south parts of divided Nicosia. “Alice in Meridianland” is a camouflage tactic to conceal its anti-militaristic nature while crossing the guarded checkpoints into the city’s north part. Two tricycles, pulling 3-meter long banners, have followed the loop in opposite directions, three times. They met at designated areas and formed instant spaces of playful interaction. The narrative unpacks the entanglements between the performative event and the city’s users of the streets and public spaces. It unfolds how the event has generated new associations between the public spaces and the feelings of the participants and of the author. How it readjusted their mental maps and urban imaginaries. The narrative is a reflective tool for critical spatial practices in producing situated knowledge.

Pages:193 to 208
Section: Portfolio
How to Cite
Stratis, S. (2020) “Why Alice is not in Wonderland?”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(4), pp. 193-208. doi:

Author Biography

University of Cyprus
Cyprus Cyprus

I am a Ph.D. architect, urbanist, and activist for the urban commons. I am Associate Professor, at the Department of Architecture, University of Cyprus. My research focuses on the political agencies of architecture and urban design in conflictual plus uncertain spaces. I study how the strategic value of urban design, as well as the social dimensions of architecture, inform critical urban practices and become visible in public space. I oscillate between a reflective practice and a practice-based research, thanks to entanglements between teaching, practicing, curating and writing. I enrich my research by operating in a highly contested territory, such as the Cypriot one, plus by having an active contribution in the becoming of young European urban design practices through my scientific position in Europe. I am one of the main founders of the critical spatial practice agency AA & U for Architecture, Art, and Urbanism. I am the editor of the “Guide to Common Urban Imaginaries in Contested Spaces”, jovis. 2016, the curator of the Cyprus participation in 15th Venice Biennale of Architecture, (, and the project leader of “Hands-on Famagusta” (


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ISSN 2206-9658