In contemporary Istanbul, it can be quite difficult to find evidence of the city’s cosmopolitan past. While the vast majority of the city’s inhabitants today identify as Muslim, in the early 20th century the city’s population was majority non-Muslim. Among the many communities that formed part of Istanbul’s elaborate multi-religious and multi-cultural mosaic were large numbers of Ottoman Greeks, Armenians, and Jews who had been an indelible part of life in Istanbul – and across the Empire – for as long as the city had existed. Luckily, the prolific recording industry of the city and its diaspora offers another glimpse of how Istanbul once sounded through the traces of its musical legacy.
If Sayat Nova wrote hundreds of songs in Armenian, Azeri, and Georgian, then why are the cross-cultural celebrations of Sayat Nova so few and far between? Gaps in the historical record and contemporary political environment make a pancultural perspective of the legendary bard of the Caucasus more difficult.
The Hrant Drink Foundation had undertaken the massive assignment of mapping hundreds of properties owned by the Armenian, Jewish, Greek and Syriac/Assyrian communities before the Genocide.
The fact that Iranians talk about brain drain as if it was a uniquely huge Iranian problem suggests that brain drain is a proxy for their anxieties about the state of the country, rather than actual empirical evaluation of the country’s migration. (Image Credit: Alireza Darvish)
Afghan refugees in Turkey are in legal limbo in which their status is unclear. They have the right to reside in the country, but lack the right to work or the kind of state assistance needed to avoid working. To be a refugee in Turkey then requires navigating life between a state-acknowledged realm of illegality, and the uncertainty of how global trends can affect the fate of a refugee population.
This guest mix from Outtalectuals takes the Ajam mixtape series to new planes, both sonically and geographically. This mix came to fruition as an attempt to use the Ajam platform to show artists who are critically and uniquely engaging with music that is often cordoned off into the “world music” sphere. Instead, Outtalectuals takes these sounds as influences to deeply connect with, rather than cliches to reproduce and slightly modify.
Kamyar Jarahzadeh aka Yavaran brings us to the dance floor once again, this time with a wedding-themed mixtape in time for Valentine’s Day. This mix highlights the shared happiness and culture that surrounds the region’s marriage celebrations.
Ajam mixtapes continue, this time with a sample of music that features Persian poetry as it appears in different musical forms. This mix showcases the myriad of ways Persian poems find their way into music, ranging from Rumi poems sang over classical styles to readings of American poetry in translation. Each poem is accompanied with an English translation.