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Kurdish Alevi Music and Migration: An Interview with Ozan Aksoy by Chris Gratien

Posted by on in Research Methods and Fieldwork Practices
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Author Profile: Ozan Aksoy
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For Kurdish Alevis, music serves as a mode of articulating and
transmitting ideas about collective history, identity, and connections
to the geography of former homes in the countryside of Anatolia. Our
guest in Ottoman History Podcast Episode #187, Dr. Ozan Aksoy, has
explored this crucial role of music within the Alevi community from a
variety of angles throughout more than two decades as a musician and

As one of the members of the critically-acclaimed Kardeş Türküler
ensemble, Aksoy helped launch a provocative musical experiment that
has offered a new vision of folklore in Turkey, one that celebrates
the ethnolinguistic richness of Turkey’s musical heritage as opposed
to masking it. In contrast to the sanitized, standardized, and
Turkicized songs of the national corpus, Kardeş Türküler performs
songs from all of Turkey’s historical communities in their original
languages. This attempt to build solidarity through mutual
appreciation rather than the imposition of a single dominant culture
has helped build a space for a more multivocal representation of local
culture in Turkey.

Ozan Aksoy has also approached the issues of music and identity from a
much different perspective as an ethnomusicologist engaged in the
study of Alevi music in diasporic settings. His dissertation research,
completed at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York,
explored perfomative contexts and modes of transmission for music
within the Kurdish Alevi community of Germany. Aksoy examined how
Anatolia or “the first homeland” is sonically reimagined in important
communal spaces such as türkü bars and weddings. As we discuss in the
interview, this reimagining requires not only a transmission of
musical knowledge, but also the repurposing or even excavation of
songs rooted in intensely local geographies, specific historical
contexts, and even the sacred realm of Alevi religious practice.

Please join us this new episode, the first of its kind for Ottoman
History Podcast, as Dr. Ozan Aksoy discusses some of the findings of
his research on the significance of music within the Kurdish Alevi
community with Ceren Erdem and myself and performs some selections
live in the OHP studio for our internet audience.



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