‘I’m Curious About You’: The Role of Social Identity and Narrative Genre in Musicking Turkish–Kurdish Reconciliation



Williams, Audrey A

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The literature on music and conflict transformation has grown in recent years, providing a look at the myriad ways in which music can foment violent conflict, promote resilience in the midst of conflict, and facilitate reconciliation in the aftermath of conflict. Yet, the literature is overly focused on claiming the successes of music in conflict transformation, while remaining sparse on the particularities of how music interrelates with conflict dynamics. Taking the music of two reconciliation-focused bands in Turkey—Kardeş Türküler and Bajar—as a case study, this research draws on the theory of social identity construction and on a new matrix around the function of narrative genre in conflict to triangulate the ways in which Kurdish identity is constructed in the music of these two groups. Through a social identity and narrative genre analysis of a sample of songs from each group, supplemented by interviews with three musicians from these groups, this study elaborates how music functions in conflict transformation. Specifically, this study finds that narratives of social identity and ingroup–outgroup relations can play out in both conflict escalatory and conflict de-escalatory genres while still holding the potential to move away from denigrating outgroups and instead toward constructing generative intergroup relationships.



Social identity, Reconciliation, Conflict transformation, Narrative genre, Kurdish identity, Turkish-Kurdish conflict