Historiography, Orality, and Nationalism
The essays in this collection offer robust theoretical analysis of language and cultural rights, class and gender, policy and politics, history and historiography, nation and nationalism, and Marxism. They continue to remain original to a vast array of debates and contestations in these areas. The book includes unpublished pieces and some key contributions that are most relevant to the contemporary debates on theory and method of nation/nationalism, and the struggle of national minorities for sovereignty, cultural and political rights. Each chapter provides original data and are written over a span of decades, but significantly, they offer a radical break with the colonial, orientalist, and nationalist traditions of knowledge production. This book is an exemplary exploration of nation and nationalism in a Marxist dialectical, historical materialism.
12 Wanderings in “Adalar Sahilinde”
In my childhood in Mahabad, a Kurdish city in Iran, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, I loved to hear a song played on a gramophone in teahouses. Teahouses (çayxane, called more often qawexane, “coffeehouses”) were spaces of adult men; a child could show up only in the company of an adult. There were many teahouses in town. I would hear the song as a passerby, especially in the summer when doors and windows were open. My father’s shop, which I used to frequent, was near two teahouses in Meydanî Ardî (“Flour Square”), where grains, dairy products and other commodities from neighboring villages were traded. The singer was Mela Kerîm, and the song is known by the first two words of the lyrics, “Ke deĺên emřo deşt û kêw şîne,” which means, “When they say plains and mountains are green today.”1 I loved the song, its melody, lyrics, and the outstanding playing of the stringed instrument, the qanun,2 which breathed life into the singing.
At the time, the only sources for recorded music were the gramophone and radio. Although our family was, to use an imprecise term, upper-middle class, we did not have either a radio set until about 1954 or a gramophone until the early 1960s. This was the norm. We could listen to music in teahouses or at weddings, family gatherings, and picnics, or simply engage in singing in any appropriate context. The schools, primary and secondary, did not...
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