Wednesday, 23 May 2018, 5.00 pm - 6.30 pm |
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Sounds of Empire: Music Recording in the Late Ottoman World


Yektan Türkyilmaz
(EUME Fellow 2017-21)

Chair: Valeska Huber
(FU Berlin)

This lecture will explore the multi-directional journeys of the (music) recording history in the Ottoman world - that is in Constantinople, Smyrna and Salonica - in the first two decades of the 20th century. Drawing on the life stories and examples of commercial records it will illustrate the changing styles, content and language use in music production in this most turbulent period of the crumbling empire. The talk will specifically underscore the cultural, political and identitarian implications of the emergence of the recording technology on various communities and social classes.

At the turn of the 20th century 78-rounds-per-minute (78RPM) records appeared in the
"Orient" – almost simultaneously with their appearance in Europe. Within a decade soundengineers working for European companies swept the major cities of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Asia to record performers for local markets. Gramophone records, recorded locally yet pressed in Europe, swiftly became a major commodity inglobal trade. This new commodity had bearings beyond its merchandise value; it reshaped the music, culture, politics and economy for the Ottoman subjects at local, national and global scales. This lecture will analyze these records played in Ottoman homes, coffee shops and meyhanes, with a view toward expanding the study of nationalism, diaspora experience and production of cultural forms to take account of the recording industry, in addition to the focus on print media that is currently central to these fields of study.

Yektan Türkyilmaz received his PhD from Duke University Department of Cultural Anthropology. He taught courses at University of Cyprus, Sabancı, Bilgi and Duke Universities addressing the debates around the notions of collective violence, memory making and reconciliation. He is working on his book manuscript based on his dissertation, Rethinking Genocide: Violence and Victimhood in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1915, that addresses the conflict in Eastern Anatolia in the early 20th century and the memory politics around it. Yektan Türkyilmaz has been a 2014/15 EUME Fellow and returns as a EUME Fellow for the academic years 2017/18 and 2018/19.