Lecture: Kurdish Life in the 1960s— A Snapshot of Music and Culture by Prof. Dieter Christensen

Sat, January 23, 2010 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Presented by the The Kurdish American Society (KAS)

Doors Open at 6:30pm

Refreshments Will be Served

The contemporary Middle East has brought the complexity and diversity of the region’s countries to the fore, both in celebration and in conflict. Various ethnic groups, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians and others, have been recognized as sometimes restive minorities within states but knowledge of them by the outside world (indeed, within the region itself) has remained relatively limited. Even today, with the emergence of a transnational, pan-Kurdish identity centered in northern Iraq, with extensions into Iran, Syria, and most significantly, Turkey, Kurds remain relegated to being “factors” in the geopolitics of the Middle East, rather than being appreciated fully for their music and culture. And, knowledge of Kurdish culture in the last century ago was limited to Kurds themselves, or a handful of specialists and travelers who ventured into lands upon which they lived.

In the early 1960s, Dieter and Nerthus Christensen traveled to isolated parts of southeastern Anatolia, the heartland of Turkish Kurdistan, as well as to Iranian Kurdistan to research Kurdish music and life. It was a time when local populations were not as exposed to the outside world as they are today. They lived among Kurdish sheepherders and farmers, photographed Kurdish rural life, and recorded Kurdish music, making the Christensen’s work an invaluable chronicle of Kurdish lifestyle and music of the time.

The Kurdish American Society (KAS) ( invites you to a presentation by Prof. Christensen on Kurdish music. You will have the unique opportunity to hear Dieter speak about Kurdish music, listen to some of his recordings, and view his slide show about his trips to Kurdistan.

About Dieter Christensen
Dieter Christensen is Professor of Music (Ethnomusicology) Emeritus at Columbia University. After studies at the Berlin State Conservatory and the Free University Berlin, he earned his Dr. phil. in Comparative Musicology and Anthropology in 1957. The following year he began his research into Kurdish music with fieldwork in Siirt and Hakkari, continued in Western Iran (1962), again Hakkari (1965), and Sivas wilayeti (1970), always jointly with his wife Nerthus Christensen, an anthropologist and archaeologist. Professor directed the Center for Ethnomusicology. From 1982-2002, he also served as the Secretary General of the International Council for Traditional Music (UNESCO) and as Editor of the Yearbook for Traditional Music. His publications include approximately 20 articles and reviews on Kurdish music in German and English, some of which were translated into Turkish or Farsi. He is currently preparing an illustrated book about Hakkari in the 1950s/1960s, and a comprehensive study of Kurdish music, “Music in Kurdish Life”.

Last updated: 2010-01-16 15:06:43

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