Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Ferhat Files

I've learned a lot about Turkey, its politics and culture, in the last few days, hanging out with Ferhat Tunç and his entourage.

The last event on his local residency is TODAY, Wednesday (3/25) from 7-9 pm at NCSU's Stewart Theater in Raleigh. (After this, they are headed to California, then Rome, then back to Istanbul.) I hear that Ferhat and Nuray will play music at the beginning, and again at the end of this event. There will be a panel discussion in between with Louise Meintjes and Catherine Admay, the two professors responsible for bringing them to Duke.

Tuesday afternoon I visited their class, "Human Rights and The Arts." The students had a lot of great questions for Ferhat about music and politics (and might I add, that classrooms are a different place now than when I was last a student? Everyone--without exception had laptops open, typing their notes and toggling between Google maps of Turkey, Wikipedia entries and the site that has lots of source material about Ferhat in English.)

After that, he met some Turkish students for coffee in Van der Heyden, the café in Duke's library; they debated the Kurdish question and possible roads toward multiculturalism in Turkey.

Later I learned from Ferhat that his instrument, the bağlama, has a long history of being associated with political protest and persecution.

Ferhat Tunç Unplugged from Santa Salsera on Vimeo.
Ferhat Tunç playing the bağlama and singing a song about Pir Sultan Abdal, a 16th-century musician who was killed by the Ottoman Empire because he would not renounce freedom. Translation at the end provided by Ömür Kayikçi.

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