[MGSA-L] Princeton Hellenic Studies Workshop: March 28, 2014

Dimitri H. Gondicas gondicas at Princeton.EDU
Fri Mar 21 08:18:22 PDT 2014


Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies


"Between God and Nation: Pontian-Greek Musical
Creativity in Contemporary Turkey"

Nikos Michailidis

Department of Anthropology

The invention and dissemination of "Turkish folk music" in Anatolia in the post-1923 period became an important tool of control and absorption of the linguistically-diverse indigenous populations of the Eastern Black Sea region into the dominant, mainstream Turkish nationhood.  Musical expression in Romeyka (Pontian-Greek) and in other non-Turkish indigenous languages of the region (Armenian, Georgian, Laz) had been curtailed by censorship and stigmatization. Nation-making and musical modernization in Turkey relegated the kemençe or Pontian lyra and its sounds to a marginal position within the dominant musical narrative. This instrument of the Pontian-Greek speakers was under-patronized and almost reached the point of extinction. Its melodies were performed on state television and radio programs with the bağlama, a long lute that was considered the "Turkish national instrument."The Pontian-Lyra/Kemence was made into a symbol of the past and underdevelopment, a mere anachronism, inappropriate for modern, urban national aesthetics. However, despite years of indifference, assimilation and marginalization, a current revival of Romeyka music in Trebizond and Istanbul by young performers is well under its way. This lecture will focus on the cultural dynamics of Romeyka music-making in contemporary Turkey, the challenges facing its practitioners, and the meanings attributed to this rising "genre." The presentation will stress the importance of religious conversion and cultural syncretism as two elements that shape the musical creativity of contemporary Trebizond's Pontian-Greek speakers and will call for further scholarly attention on these in-between populations, the study of which can provide a comparative angle for the examination of the projects of Turkish and Greek modernity.

Nikos Michailidis studied Political Science and International Relations (B.A.) at Panteion University in Greece and Boğaziçi University in Turkey (M.A.), and Social Anthropology (M.A.) at York University in Canada. He is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Princeton working on ethnography of music-making and belonging in Turkey. Based on extensive fieldwork and archival research conducted in Trabzon, Istanbul, and Ankara, Michailidis' work analyzes the dynamics of the revival of the indigenous Pontian-Greek music and lyrics and their multiple meanings for the practitioners and their diverse audiences. His research creatively bridges anthropology with historiography, politics, ethnomusicology, Hellenic and Turkish studies. His broader research interests include political anthropology, social theory and history of ideas, musical decolonization, anthropology of memory, research methods, European and Mediterranean Studies. His research has also been supported by the American Research Institute in Turkey. A Pontian-lyra performer himself, Michailidis is currently developing a project named Argatia (Solidarity) that aims to cultivate musical creativity and to promote collaboration among musicians from Greece, Turkey and elsewhere. Argatia supports Pontian-Greek music and other independent local musical styles that had been marginalized by musical orthodoxies, profit-oriented music industries, and mainstream cultural networks.

Friday, March 28, 2014

1:30 p.m.

Scheide Caldwell House, Room 103

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