Martin Stokes


John Davis suggested some time ago that the integration of history into the social sciences constitutes one of the distinctive opportunities of Mediterraneanist anthropology: this point should be considered seriously by those who study music. The combination of written texts and a contemporary world in which the past is constantly evoked has provided a number of Mediterraneanist anthropologists with an opportunity to assess the relationship between concepts of time, political power and the organisation of memory through written or oral history (Davis 1989, Pina Cabral 1987). The fact that conceptions of time and history are plural and competing is not peculiar to the Mediterranean world, although this competition is perhaps peculiarly aggravated, due to the sheer profusion of the raw materials from which histories can be made, and the ideological imperatives of colonial and nationalist research. And we must add to this picture the views of those who observe them as outsiders, which invariably impinge heavily on local historical production. This is again particularly obvious in the Mediterranean world, the meeting point of so many of the world's competing ideological and political systems, and the focus of such intense speculation by North West European scholars about the genesis of European civilisation, as many have pointed out (see Llobera 1986, Herzfeld 1987).

The production of history
Considerations on the relations between power, history, memory and nostalgia in contemporary Turkish music history writing and the performance of the Turkish art music (sanat muzigi) genre.
Nostalgia, commerce and 'The Second Republic'
Turkish art music was the object of an ideological onslaught in the 1920-40 period. Modernist reformers associated with the dominant nationalist ideology of Kemalism attempted to ban art music as the relic of a tainted Ottoman past, offering in its place a purified 'national' folk music genre (associated with musicologists such as Mahmut Ragip Gazimihal, Halil Bedi Yonetken, Muzaffer Sarisozen). This music is now the focus of a quasi-official and commercial nostalgia following the apparent collapse of the old state project.
Making music history irrelevant
Whilst this music flourishes today, its survival depended upon its 'dehistoricization'. After making some comparative observations, two distinct historiographic strategies to revitalise Turkish art music as a historical project, and remove it from the domain of nostalgia, are examined.
Modernist musicology 1: Ottomanist monumentalism
The classic modernization scheme is considered in this section, that focuses on Yilmaz Oztuna's biography of Huseyin Sadeddin Arel.
Modernist musicology 2: the arts of memory
This section concerns the power of memory as a means of cultural regeneration and focuses on Cem Behar's recent discussion of Ahmet Irsoy.
Italian Abstract
Your comments
Note on orthography:
  Spellings of place names, musical instruments, composers and theorists follow, as far as this medium allows, contemporary Turkish orthographic conventions. To add to the confusion that often arises in transliteration from the Arabic script, there are a variety of romanizations adopted by Turkish authors. Although this is a contentious issue (relating to the extent to which one priveleges the integrity of the Arabic script, or the ways Turks pronounce the word) I have chosen the simplest recognisable Turkish versions throughout. Thus, ud instead of 'ud or 'oud, and Safiuddin's Kitab ul-Edvar rather than Safi al-Din's Kitab al-Adwar.

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(updated 20 Oct 1996)