Date of Degree

2-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Music

Advisor(s)

Stephen Blum

Subject Categories

Ethnic Studies | Music | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Keywords

Germany, Identity, Kurdish Alevi, Migration, Music, Turkey

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the experiences of Kurdish Alevis, currently living in Germany, who trace their background to locations within the boundaries of the Republic of Turkey. I argue that music has been a particularly important mode through which Kurdish Alevis in Germany have articulated collective histories and have fashioned narratives of belonging and multiple and sometimes contradictory identities. The subjects of my research are immigrants and refugees who are ethnically Kurdish and whose religion is Alevi, an Anatolian religion whose relations to both Sunni and Shi'a Islam are historically controversial. They speak Turkish along with Kurdish, in most cases are Turkish and German citizens living in and around Cologne, Germany, and have family members in Istanbul, Turkey.

Kurdish Alevis struggled against being labeled with certain identities, such as Turkish and Muslim within the larger immigrant pool from Turkey. At the same time, many of them have striven for their collective identities, namely Kurdish and Alevi, primarily in the last two decades. Music has been an integral part of their efforts. I argue that, in the last two decades, a new transnational field has emerged for Kurdish Alevi immigrants and refugees in Germany and by extension in Turkey, opening spaces for realignment around various and fluctuating loyalties with respect to ethnic, political, and social modes of belonging. This work is an investigation of the music of this ethno-religious double minority group in their second and third homelands.

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