Turkish scholar to discuss Armenians in the recording history

Turkish scholar to discuss Armenians in the recording history

PanARMENIAN.Net - Dr. Yektan Türkyılmaz, the Henry Khanzadian Kazan Visiting Professor at California State University–Fresno, will be delivering a talk titled “Armenians on Records: Music Production from Homeland to Diasporas,” at Columbia University on March 22, The Armenian Weekly reports.

The lecture will explore the multi-directional journeys of Armenians in the recording history from the Ottoman Empire to the diasporas, particularly to the United States, in the first half of the 20th century, as musicians, as producers and as merchants. Drawing on the life stories and examples of commercial records in the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere in the diasporas, it will illustrate the changing styles, content and language use in music production vis-à-vis place, trauma and audience/cultural dialogue throughout one of the most turbulent periods of Armenian history. The talk will specifically underscore the cultural, political and identitarian implications of the emergence of the recording technology on Armenian communities.

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 sound engineers 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 in global trade. This new commodity had bearings beyond its merchandise value also for the Armenian communities; it reshaped the music, culture, politics and economy for the Armenians at local, national and global scales. This lecture will analyze these records played in Armenian homes and coffee shops, with a view toward expanding the study of nationalism, the genocide, 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.

Dr. Türkyılmaz received his PhD from the department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. He has taught courses at the University of Cyprus, Sabanci, Bilgi, and Duke Universities, addressing the debates around the notions of collective violence, memory making, and reconciliation. Turkyilmaz is currently working on his book manuscript based on his dissertation, “Rethinking Genocide: Violence and Victimhood in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1915.”

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