I have attempted to demonstrate the politicization of Kurdish popular music and folk songs in Turkey during the 1990s in this article. Cultural and political issues have been intertwined in the case of Kurdish music practiced in Turkey where the largest Kurdish population resides. As I have mentioned, Kurdish music performed in Turkey, by nature, has been constructed as “protest music”. It has been a protest as well as a public and popular music, selected and reprocessed in the process of nation construction. Simply emphasizing the expression ‘Kurdistan’ is itself to maintain the protest. We know many Kurdish musicians and groups were in trouble with the Turkish state. Many of them were arrested several times and many of the concerts were banned. I believe the importation of a concept of struggle into Kurdish music, along with its protest nature, should be analyzed in detail in a future study. It is important to understand that the activities and artists that thrived were mostly determined by the PKK and its supporters, and this in turn played an important role in empowering that organization. Thus, the organization behaved like a state, with the consequence that musicians had to choose whether to be on the side of the organization or not, meaning (of course) that, if not, they would loose opportunities to make money from their music on the open market. Since much popular Kurdish folk music is in favor of Kurdish nationalism, one can reasonably assert that at least some of the musicians associated with it chose to be on the side of the movement. In doing so, they became very popular either with the help of the movement among the general population of Kurds in Turkey, or they succeeded in appealing to the popular taste of already politically engaged Kurds, or both. That notwithstanding, there was a very small, almost imperceptible, line between an appreciation of this music that responded to a constructed sense of nationality and nationalism, and what one might describe as ‘common popular taste’ among Kurds in Turkey, especially during the late 1990s.
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