Arts & Culture Lecture Series:Approaches to Intangible Cultural Heritage in Turkey and China

Yunus Emre- Institute in London hosted the next Arts & Culture Lecture Series with the discussion of Approaches to Intangible Cultural Heritage in Turkey and China.

Yunus Emre Institute London provided a discussion environment for two scholars Olcay Muslu Gardner a visiting Scholar at SOAS, University of London from Turkey`s Hatay Mustafa Kemal University and Rachel Harris from SOAS, University of London on June 14.

Olcay Muslu Gardner discusses the interrelated parameters of intangible cultural heritage and the actors which play a role in the sustainability of music in Sanlıurfa-Turkey. This study is based on fieldwork which began in 1998, and a more in-depth analysis which was conducted between 2012-2019 in western Anatolia and southeast Turkey. Gardner focuses on traditional “sıra-sohbet” meetings, which were accepted by UNESCO as examples of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010, and illustrates the dynamics which affect both their continuity and discontinuity. Gardner who is a guest Scholar at SOAS from Hatay Mustafa Kemal University is an Asst. Professor and founding member of the Hatay Mustafa Kemal University Antioch State Conservatory where she teaches Ottoman/Turkish music (maqam-usûl) and percussion instruments.

Rachel Harris also contributed to the discussions with her study the nomination of the Uyghur Meshrep by China in 2009, and the role this item of heritage has played in the recent “anti-religious extremism” campaigns in Xinjiang. Based on her long-term fieldwork in Xinjiang (East Turkestan), and experience as an external evaluator for UNESCO, Rachel Harris reflected the possibilities for alternative approaches to revitalising meshrep based on her current collaborative project in Kazakhstan.  Rachel Harris from SOAS, University of London is a Research Coordinator of the School of Arts at SOAS, University of London, where she teaches ethnomusicology with special focus on China and Central Asia. She has published extensively on religious and expressive culture among the Uyghurs, and on cultural policy in China. She is currently working on an edited volume “Ethnographies of Islam in China” (University of Hawaii Press, 2020) and a monograph “Soundscapes of Uyghur Islam” (Indiana University Press, 2020) and she leads a BA Sustainable Development Grant working with Uyghur diaspora communities in Kazakhstan.

During the seminar, Harris showed some videos revealing the meshrep culture and Uyghur folk dances recorded by herself during her research in the region.  The event which received a great amount of participation of academics and students living in London ended with a Q&A session.