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Translation and Popular Music

Transcultural Intimacy in Turkish–Greek Relations

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Şebnem Susam-Saraeva

Research on translation and music has so far focused mainly on «art music» and on issues such as quality, singability and accessibility. Studies which seek to embed translation and music within their historical and sociocultural contexts are relatively rare. This book aims to shed light on how translations of popular music contribute to fostering international relations by focusing on a case study of Turkish-Greek rapprochement in the last two decades. It provides a brief account of the thaw in relations between the two countries and then examines the ways in which translation and music have played a role in these changes. By looking at the phenomenon through the music’s various forms of materiality (on paper, in audio and through the internet) and the different forms the accompanying translations take, and by drawing on a range of disciplines (popular music studies, sociology of music, ethnomusicology, social anthropology, comparative literature and fan studies), the book aims to foreground the multifaceted nature of translation and music and their wide-ranging impact on society and international relations.
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Chapter 1: Translation, popular music and transcultural intimacy

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← x | 1 →CHAPTER 1

Sevda (sevdas),2 yakamoz (diakamós),3 aman.4 Impenetrable words for some of the readers of this book, but familiar to both Turks and Greeks, despite ← 1 | 2 →the fact that they speak mutually unintelligible languages and use different alphabets. Grief and tears, rubbing salt and light on one’s wounds – the healing sentimentality of the Aegean people. All the while smoking, with no intention of healing, really; ‘we’, from the Aegean, are usually in love with ‘our’ pain, ‘our’ melancholy. Longing and memories – the nostalgia for a highly reimagined past, for a past before the pain, before the Turkish War of Independence, before the Asia Minor Catastrophe, as it is called by the Greeks, and before the population exchange between the two nations. The other shore emerges here as an image that haunts the people who were violently uprooted from both sides of the Aegean and sent across the sea. The same image has also left its mark in almost every single work of art and literature that contributed, in its own way, to the thawing of relationships between Turkey and Greece through the rapprochement within the last two decades (more on rapprochement in section 1.2).

With its video clip shot on the cobblestone streets of Cunda – an iconic island for the population exchange of the early 1920s – in front of its dilapidated Orthodox church and old Rum houses, later occupied by Muslims forced out of the islands of Crete and Lesbos,...

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