Stranbêjî in Contemporary Iraqi Kurdistan: Discourses of History, Heritage, and Tradition
Date: 16 December 2016
University of Exeter
PhD in Kurdish Studies
This thesis examines stranbêjî, a traditional style of singing in Kurdish, and its performers in contemporary Iraqi Kurdistan, Badinan region. The thesis argues that stranbêjî, as a cultural social practice and as a musical style, is changing form not only because of its interaction with audio-visual technologies as other studies often ...
This thesis examines stranbêjî, a traditional style of singing in Kurdish, and its performers in contemporary Iraqi Kurdistan, Badinan region. The thesis argues that stranbêjî, as a cultural social practice and as a musical style, is changing form not only because of its interaction with audio-visual technologies as other studies often highlight in passing, but also in response to a nascent popular music culture, societal and “inter-ethnic” sensibilities, all of which compel performers to adopt new aesthetics and politics of performance and popularity. I ascribe this to performers’ novel understandings of their arts and their re-conceptualizations of themselves as active social agents in the cultural, musical and political spaces within which they operate in Iraqi Kurdistan. To prepare the social and political backdrop for those discussions, the thesis first provides a comprehensive ethnography of the tradition, its performers and overall aesthetics, as it exists today in Badinan, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). It then turns to scrutinize the effects of recording and institutional practices surrounding the tradition, as well as examining the political capital it represents in the context of identity politics and nation-building. It explores institutional practices, and how they are saturated with notions of modernity, progress, multiculturalism, and pan-Kurdish identity politics. Ultimately, the thesis approaches stranbêjî as a site and a practice around, and through which discourses of history, belonging, self, community and nation are expressed, performed, and negotiated. In focusing on the ways in which stranbêjî and its performers adapt to social, political, and cultural forces and trends, this thesis contributes to a better understanding of notions of persistence and continuity with regard to cultural traditions in modernity.
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