Dengbs on borderlands: Borders and the state as seen through the eyes of Kurdish singer-poets

Wendelmoet Hamelink, Hanifi Bar??

Abstract

This article investigates how the Kurdish home, borders and the state are depicted in one of the most important Kurdish cultural expressions in Turkey until 1980: the dengb art. The recital songs of the dengbs form a fascinating source to investigate how Kurds experienced life on the margins of the (nation-)state. We argue that the songs demonstrate that many Kurds perceived the political geography of the state they officially belonged to as foreign and not as a legitimate part of Kurdish socio-political reality. The Kurdish political geography created in the songs exists in small-scale local structures and alliances, and there is mostly no reference to a common Kurdish cause. Borders are presented as foreign interference in the Kurdish landscape. In the conclusion we suggest that Kurdish fragmented political structure should be understood as a deliberate means to avoid being incorporated in a state structure. This speaks against a (self-)Orientalist interpretation of Kurdish history that defines a lack of Kurdish unity as primitive.

Dengb li ser soran: Dina sor dewletbi v dengban

Ev gotar vedikolbwelatKurdan, sor dewlet wan hatine ?ayesandin di yek ji girgtir derbir nda Kurdda li Tirkiyey heta 1980y anku dengbiy Kilam resal dengban vkaniyeka hijmetkar p dihin bo vekola serboriy Kurdan ku mane li qerax netewe-dewletan. Em anga?t dikin ku, hernd Kurd bi xwe bi rengekfermparyek ji erdnara fermne, kilam destnan dikin ku gelek Kurd verdnara siyasya dewletwekdiyardeyekbiyandibin, ne ku wekparyek rewa ji rastiya sosyo-pol a Kurdiye. Erdnara pol ya Kurdiyku di kilaman da hatiye afirandin pile-bik e bi piranbdozeka Kurdya hevbe?, ji hevalbediy deverp hatiye. Di kilaman da sor wekdestwerdan biyaniyan li welatKurdan hatine berp kirin. Di dawiyde em pniyar dikin ku a rast Kurd bi zaneb vsiyaseta parbme?andine da ku xwe vebidizin ji bi?aftindi avahiya dewletda. Ev n di derbardoka Kurdan da li dij?ovey (oto)-oryantalt e, kew neba yekiya Kurdan wekdiyardeyekpr dibin.

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Keywords

Verbal art; self-orientalism; modernity; nationalism; politics

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