Contested belongings: understanding the meaning of Turkish classical music among young women in Germany

Şahin, Nevin
Turkish citizens who went to Germany as migrant workers during 1960s and 1970s attached themselves to the language and music of their home country in order to sustain their local, regional or national belongings. In the 21st century, against the backdrop of globalization, the second and third generation of the Turkish group in Germany has different ties with Turkey and “Turkish culture”. Are the belongings of the German-Turkish youth still shaped by language, music and cultural artifacts related to Turkey? What do they try to preserve, what do they reassemble or re-arrange? What is the meaning of music in these processes of identity? Considering the literature on the German-Turkish youth, this study aims at giving voice to an “invisible” group through an unheard genre of music. This study looks at young women, second and third generation of Turkish background, in Germany and the role of Turkish classical music in their everyday lives. A genre with a history of about a millennium, Turkish classical music as a performance entered the German context in late 1970s with the first Turkish classical music choir. v Since then the production of Turkish classical music has been feminized, and the young women singing in these choirs, who are somehow the followers of previous generations, develop ties to the music and the music circles they attend. The ethnographic data, which has been collected through a fieldwork of three months in Germany, mainly in Berlin, among young women in Turkish classical music choirs, shows that multiple belongings play a role in the transnational experience of music making among German-Turkish young women. When considered the Turkishness and Germanness of their identities with religious, linguistic and national aspects, it can be said that the young women experience a contestation of belongings and try to hide themselves in music in an effort to escape the tension of contested belongings. However, Turkish classical music is a source of contested belongings since the young women considered produce a type of music that they do not normally listen to.


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Citation Formats
N. Şahin, “Contested belongings: understanding the meaning of Turkish classical music among young women in Germany ,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2009.