Kurdish Music-Making in Istanbul: Music, Sentiment and Ideology in a Changing Urban Context

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Kurdish Music-Making in Istanbul: Music, Sentiment and Ideology in a Changing Urban Context

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Title: Kurdish Music-Making in Istanbul: Music, Sentiment and Ideology in a Changing Urban Context
Author: Withers, Jonathan Sanjeev
Citation: Withers, Jonathan Sanjeev. 2016. Kurdish Music-Making in Istanbul: Music, Sentiment and Ideology in a Changing Urban Context. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: This thesis is an ethnographic study of Kurdish political music at three cultural centers in Istanbul, Turkey. Activists at these cultural centers engage in musical activities that perform the Kurdish nation in Istanbul, outside of the Kurdish homeland but home to a large Kurdish migrant community. By drawing on diverse musical sources, activist musicians create and perform music that promotes an ideological narrative of history and politics in which the Kurdish freedom struggle plays a central role. The efforts of these musicians are fundamental to creating and maintaining a Kurdish activist public in Istanbul. I examine the complex process of identifying what is Kurdish in Turkey to introduce how activists perform this identification musically. Activists draw from musical behaviors they view as traditional, including singing by dengbêj singers and govend dance, to reinforce links to the homeland. These links take the form of affective symbols that in turn inform the aesthetics of contemporary Kurdish music. Members of the Kurdish activist community link genres that have arisen in recent decades, from arabesk to gerilla music, to ideological stances and attitudes with the power to destroy activist enthusiasm or to sustain it. I examine three performance contexts in detail: informal situations where Kurds meet, chat, and drink; concerts that act as models for and of the activist community; and public protests, where activism meets the broader public.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493329
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