Fulbright Awarded to Graduate Student Alex Kreger (CMES | Ethnomusicology)
CMES | Ethnomusicology graduate student Alex Kreger has been awarded a year-long Fulbright scholarship to pursue his research on the Alevi Tahtici musical tradition and its place in the Kaz Mountain region's socio-cultural environment.
The Tahtacı (‘wood-cutters’) are Alevi Türkmen who have traditionally earned their living as loggers in the forested regions of Aegean and Mediterranean Turkey. Within the nationalist rhetoric of the Turkish republic, the Tahtacı have been privileged as a sub-group in which Central Asian Turkic traditions, folk music and even ‘pure Turkish’ language are best preserved. At the same time, Alevis belong to a religious minority outside the social mainstream. Alex's research will aim to understand the Tahtacı’s use of music to articulate overlapping religious, national, community, and individual identities while examining the adaptation and sustainability of rural expressive culture in light of globalized economic and cultural development.
Following a week-long visit to Edremit last August, the idea for this project emerged organically in response to villagers’ stated eagerness to document and share their rich musical culture. Alex began to cultivate a close relationship with Turkish folk music in general, and Alevi music in particular, by studying the Anatolian long-necked lute sazwith Mansur Bildik in Vienna in 2011 and 2012. Alongside his academic research, Alex will collaborate as pianist and saz player on several musical projects that set Western and Eastern musical traditions in dialogue with the türkü folk song genre. These collaborations will be presented in concert during Alex's time in Edremit.