A World through Words: Dengbêjî, Kilam, and Collective Memory
von Sayid R Darati
Datum der mündl. Prüfung:2023-09-07
Betreuer:Prof. Dr. Philip Kreyenbroek
Gutachter:Prof. Dr Khanna Usoyan
Gutachter:Dr. Roxana Zenhari
EnglischThis dissertation analyzes aspects of the dengbêjî tradition among Kurdish-Kurmanj communities in the context of collective memory. It argues that dengbêjî is a means of preserving a considerable number of narratives in collective memory and conveying history through generations. Therefore, the dengbêjî tradition is examined in the context of memory studies, with a special reference to oral history, oral traditions, and collective memory. The study begins with a theoretical discussion regarding literacy and illiteracy, as well as the role of literacy in societies. This paves the way for analyzing the connection between illiteracy and oral culture among Kurdish-Kurmanj people. The aim of this discussion is to draw from existing scholarly works to create a theoretical framework for the topic and to analyze the impact of dengbêjî on the collective memory of a society whose literacy level was low until the last few decades. Dengbêjî is an oral tradition and a method of recounting history among Kurmanji-speaking Kurdish people. By focusing on the connection between memory and history, this dissertation will examine this specific way of remembering, drawing upon memory studies. Consequently, the function and role of dengbêjî in creating a collective memory among Kurmanjs, and the characteristics of this type of oral memory as opposed to written accounts of the past, are analyzed. The dissertation centers on dengbêjî as a particular oral tradition and distinguishes it from other Kurdish oral and musical traditions, such as çîrokbêjî and stranbêjî (lit.: storytelling and singing). This helps to set the tradition apart. The study also delves into the time and location of dengbêjî by comparing it with some other oral/musical traditions, such as ashik and naqqāli from Anatolia and Iran. Furthermore, the period of the tradition, the performance of dengbêjs, and the relationship between performers and the audience are also examined. The collective memory of Kurdish people regarding the Agirî Resistance, which occurred in eastern Turkey around Mount Agirî (Turkish: Ağrı, Armenian: Ararat) between 1926 and 1930, serves as a case study here. To gain a deeper understanding of the topic, certain kilams about the fighters in this resistance are examined. Through these narratives, this dissertation seeks to understand how Kurdish-Kurmanj people have remembered the resistance and its fighters, and how these memories differ from written Kurdish and Turkish accounts. This part of the study also provides insight into the society's perception of their past. This perception differs from the way the past is represented in certain written sources and from today's viewpoint. In this manner, it may pave the way for discussing the role of written documents in the recent history of Kurdish people. Focusing on a specific oral tradition, this dissertation primarily concerns Kurmanji-speaking Kurdish people who mainly reside in the East and Southeast of Turkey, Northern Syria, and partially in Iran and Iraq (which geographically indicates the central and northern parts of Kurdistan), as well as in some small areas in the Caucasus. The research spans approximately one hundred years, specifically from the 1880s to the 1980s.
Keywords: Agirî; Collective Memory; Cultural Memory; Dengbêj; Dengbêjî; Illiteracy; Kilam; Kurdish; Kurmanji; Literacy; Narrative; Orality; Oral Culture; Oral History; Rebellion; Resistance