Türkü and halay between Ghent and Turkey. An ethnographic study of Turkish folk music in a transnational context

Start - End 
2008 - 2014 (completed)



This dissertation aims at the exploration, description and interpretation of the ways in which Turkish folk music manifests itself musically, contextually and functionally in the transnational context of contemporary Turkey and the Turkish diaspora in Ghent. Furthermore, it seeks to identify the interrelations between the different aspects and between the two larger research contexts. The city of Ghent provides a rich case, with a Turkish migration history of fifty years and a Turkish population of approximately eight to ten per cent of the total population.

The main data collection method consists of ethnographic fieldwork: the ethnography of forty-six musical events in different sociocultural contexts in Turkey and in Ghent, involving participant observation and interviews. The data are interpreted through qualitative inductive (bottom-up) analysis and confronted with the literature. The ethnographic analysis is complemented by integrated musical transcription and analysis.

Outline of the chapters

Chapter 1 establishes a  scholarly frame of reference by giving an overview of the relevant literature, highlighting themes such as folk music in the 20th and 21st century; uses and functions of music or art; 20th- and 21st-century musical developments; cultural or musical production  in  the  diaspora; and the application of these themes to the Turkish (or Belgian) case. The methodology is presented in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 provides an account of the state of the art regarding the theory and practice of Turkish folk music in Turkey, discussing relevant musical and contextual aspects. In Chapter 4 the focus shifts towards the Turkish diaspora in Ghent, of which the general-demographic and folk music-related characteristics are described. Chapter 5 presents an overview of the observed musical events and an ethnographic description and analysis of paradigmatic events in a comparative transnational framework. Chapter 6 analyses the ways in which Turkish folk music manifests itself contextually, musically and functionally in Turkey and Ghent.



Phd Student(s)