Choreographing culture: Dance, folklore, and the politics of identity in Turkey
Marcus, George E.
Doctor of Philosophy
Processes of transnational restructuring have significant, if complex, effects on local tradition. Turkey has been greatly effected by such transformations in the performative arenas of public culture which mediate between national and transnational spaces. These changes challenge Turks' notions of identity, giving way not only to concerns about the proper and most appropriate form of representation to advance as images of Turks and Turkey, but the need to negotiate among these varying identities (class, political, historical, aesthetic, professional, and gender) themselves. Domains of public culture often thought of as "traditional" such as folk dance and festival support the dynamics of middle-brow positioning vis-a-vis the global arena. Yet, while powerful, arenas of performance are also problematic when engaged as mediations on and representations of cultural identity. Because it exists only in the state of performance, dance poses particular difficulties to the effort to pin down meaning and intent. The practice of folk dance in Turkey, thus, is especially charged with debate. While folk dance is often assumed to present a virtual representation of the authentic spirit of Turkish culture, it is increasingly being conceived of as an arena capable of promoting further entree into global cultures of artistic expertise. Attempts to reformulate the practice of folk dance in terms of these goals have sparked intense debate. Tensions between people, including members of the state and participants, who support one position or the other reflect broader tensions of contemporary Turkish society.
Cultural anthropology; Dance; Folklore