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"Echoes from the Past: Music-Making and the Politics of Listening and Relatedness in Turkey"

Monday, October 8, 2012
12:00 AM
Kalamazoo Room, Michigan League

After the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, the expulsion of the Christian population, and the institution of a national Turkish state in Asia Minor/Anatolia in 1923, the remaining Muslim multi-lingual groups of the eastern Black Sea region were turned into citizens of the newly-founded state. Thereafter, a process of “modernization,” assimilation, and nation-building took place, which aimed at translating these groups into “civilized modern Turks.” The country saw a concerted effort on the part of the state to assert its legitimacy on the basis of “sameness,” with certain types of difference being dismissed as “foreign.” The state-controlled Islamic religion formed the basis of the new national Turkish identity and the non-Turkish languages (i.e Pontian-Greek, Laz, Hemsin, Kurdish) were officially declared to be no more than bastardized dialects of foreign languages, picked up by “Turks” on the border zones who had supposedly forgotten their authentic “Turkishness.” Likewise, the music of other non-Turkish groups became reconstituted as “Turkish” in state archives, in state-sponsored public performances, and in the repertoires of popular singers who had to obscure their “ethnic” attachments in order to build their careers. By focusing on the intellectual and cultural activities of "Black Sea music" performers, this lecture will discuss and analyze the centrality of music in the historical and contemporary practices of assimilation and cultural revival in Turkey.  

Nikos Michailidis, Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology, Princeton