1. Here, “knowing” is invoked in a clearly Foucaultian sense, in which knowledge is understood to include discursive constructions of power over subjugated others and exercised as tools of control via sanctions. Foucault’s work and those who have enlarged his critical diagnostic note the importance of cultural works in enacting and validating structures of knowledge. Foucault and others argue that it is through cultural works and presentations, through consistency of representational types, appear to constitute a form of “logic” enacted as a social truth. Here as well “knowledge” may be contrasted with the open-ended ontological sense of “understanding” in the hermeneutic philosophical project. This essay attempts to bring an ontological dimension in which representation can also be seen as self-presentation as a locus of and resource for resistance to caricatured representations produced by instituted discursive knowledge(s).
2. My use of “gypsy” with no capitalization and in quotes signals an ironic use of the negative cover term as used by non-Rom. The term “gypsy” has been used to conflate a broad diversity, body of traditions, and cultural practices of people variously designate themselves as Roma, by geographic origin, occupational group, or as in the case of the neologism preferred in Turkey, “Roman.”
3. Research in Turkey was made possible through a Fulbright-Hayes Dissertation Fellowship; and through Social Science Research Council Near and Middle East Research Training Fellowship Program Grant. For the research in this article, I would like to thank Ahmet Ciguli, members of the extended Şenlendirici family, the extended Sesler family, members of Kadir Üründülcü’s family; Remzi Üründülcü and other musicians from Edirne; Mehmet Ali Körüklü and members of his ensemble; Cem Yegül, Ahmet and Mehmet Uluğ at Pozitif; Hüseyin Zeyntinkaya at Kalite Plak; Galip Kayayan at Dost Müzik; Hasan Saltık at Kalan Müzik, Dr. Süleyman Senel and Melih Duygulu. Any errors and divergences in conclusions and interpretations are, however, solely my responsibility.
4. This notion of icon derives from Dagognet’s view in which icon is defined according to the function of a sign as displaying relations in a picturing mode. Icons are marked by their capacity on the one hand for condensation in using a limited repertoire of symbols, and on the other hand augmentation in which associative meanings are brought in the human productive imagination. The latter capacity of icons is further elaborated by philosopher Paul Ricoeur within the context of metaphor and mimesis (cf. Ricoeur 1978; 1991).
5. This was graphically demonstrated when I attended a wedding in the town of Soma on the West coast of Turkey in 1998. There a local Roman wedding band was thrilled to finally meet Ciguli, who had come to perform at a local wedding. Although they had covered “Agam” on one of their cassettes, they had never heard his original recording, much less met himbefore recording it themselves.
6. For details on the importance of arabesk as a nexus for cultural and political debates, see Stokes 1989; Stokes 1992; Özbek 1992; 1997.
7. Yahyagil, Mehmet Y. 1999. “Kültür suçlusu: Ciguli!” Radikal July 7, 1999.
8. “Bize Ne oldu.” Sabah June 27, 1999.
9. Cf. Seeman 2002: 164-187.
10. A goblet-shaped drum, played with the hands, and associated with Turkish urban, light classical, and Roman wedding music.
11. The movie version was shot in the Istanbul neighborhood of Kasımpasa, and its sub-area, Tarlabası. This area seems to have become a common setting in the1990s for tales of urbanization and social decay, as it was used and as the setting for a moral story about urbanization and moral conflict in the 1997 film, The Brigand (Eşkiya). Tarlabası was also used as the setting for the Turkish Roman portion of Tony Gatliff’s pseudo-documentary on Rom musicians, Latcho Drom (1993). It is reputed that the author, Metin Kaçan, grew up in the adjacent area of Dolapdere. The ambiguity of actual place is also part of the symbolic power of the novel. Several of my non-Roman friends felt that the entire greater area surrounding these neighborhoods (Taksim; Beyoğlu) were emblematic of social decay and thus dangerous.
12. “Koftiden”, from kofti, possibly from a shortened form of the Greek “katakopto” slang for bad, without value, something made up (cf. Aktunç 1990: 176). From my fieldwork, I observed that Roman musicians can use this expression for playing something really well, as in Afro-American slang use of “bad” for “good.” Contrarily, musicians can also play “koftiden” (made-up, lying) meaning playing something really bad but acting as if it’s good in order to make fun of unknowing audience members. Understanding which meaning is intended requires knowing the particulars of the context and the personality of the musicians.
13. Taksim designates a type of solo, unmetered, instrumental improvisation that introduces the makam, or mode. In this case of Kaçan’s reference, the author appears to be using the term “taksim” for what Roman musicians call “meyan”, that is, an improvised expansion on the makam in the context of a song or dance piece over a rhythmic ostinato. In urban and other practices derived from Ottoman Turkish classical music, taksim are performed as an introductory piece, and the ability to play taksims well is valued skill among Roman wedding musicians.
14. Delikanlı, literally, “crazy blood” designates a recognized social category applied to teenage and young adult males. It is considered socially acceptable for such young men to wander the streets, get in to fights, chase women, and get into trouble. I have heard the term used for young teen age Roman girls, but often this is taken as a sign that she is ready for marriage and for settling down.
15. Kara soparlar. Sopar is Romanes-derived urban slang for Roman children; kara refers to dark skin, hair and eyes.
16. The movie portrayal of intermixed genders and implied sexual contact are in stark contrast to actual Roman wedding events in which men and women dance separately and according to the demeanor idealized for their age and marriage status. Only in very rare cases might a husband and wife or close family members dance together.
17. Peter Charanis offers an alternative explanation for the transference of this term from the earlier heretical sect to the Roma who arrived on Byzantine territory, in that both the older heretical sect and later Roma spoke what was considered to be a “foreign” language (Charanis 1972b: 27).
18. Mihal Ragip Gazimihal has pointed out that the original expression from Evliya Çelebi’s seventeenth century account refers to the boru, (a single-note straight trumpet used in the military mehter ensemble) not the double-reed zurna “...because it’s musical phrases consist of one note, the peşrev can’t be played on the boru“ ) indicating quite another meaning in the past (Gazimihal 1939: 18).
19. “Rumeli kıptileri kâfirlerle kızıl yumurta, müslümanlar ile kurban bayramı, yahudilerle kamıs bayramında bayram yaparlar. Bir mezhebleri yoktur. Imâmlarımız namazlarını kılmazlar” (Çelebi 1978 volume 12: 78).
20. Cf. Özcan 1993; also Seeman 2002: 157-159 for discussion of both Ottoman historical and contemporary use of this designation among semi-nomadic Roman communities.
21. Kagıthane, Göksu, and Çırpıcı were famous excursion sites around Istanbul, at which sites professional male and female dancers (köçeks and çengis), instrumentalists and singers, and other entertainers such as ortaoyuncus performed for money.
22. The Turkish Republic (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti) was declared in 1923 and the Ottoman caliphate was abolished in 1924. Under Turkish president and founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a series of stringent cultural policies were implements that imposed dramatic changes on social relations and cultural practices through the late 1920s-1930s.
23. This record is listed in Nazif Girgin’s own company’s 1968 record catalogue for Girgin Plak. I have not been able to find an exact date for the pressing of the recording itself.
24. For further details on Edirne and the development of Roman dance music, see Seeman 2002: 240-321.
25. For more detail on this process, see Seeman 2002: 273-281.
26. However, there are also anticipatory moves on the part of the musicians themselves which by which they negotiate the potential for symbolic capital (i.e., recording a piece that they anticipate will garner popularity and distinctive recognition back home) in terms of what is perceived to be “new” in the market, and be attractive for record producers based in Istanbul.
27. This first notion of discourse derives from philosopher Paul Ricoeur’s recapitulation of discourse prior to a consideration of the effects of power. “Discourse is produced as an event; it is the counterpart of language understood as code or system. All discourse is realized as an event but understood as meaning. It has a double character in that it is realized in a fleeting moment but it can be identified and re-identified as the same” (Ricoeur 1981: 167). Further, for Ricoeur discourse is an operation of predication, that is, as it is about things it produces a world that unfolds before the interpreter (Ricoeur 1993: 217).
28. Cf. Turkish government’s Ministry of Culture page, which has a separate listing for “Romany Folk Culture” (Roman Halk Kültürü), which posts information and photos from state-sponsored field work conducting in July 2000. This project resulted in a photo exhibition, at which the Edirne Roman Folk Music ensemble performed (www.kultur.gov.tr/portal/kulture_en.asp?belgano=5765.)
29. As noted in Seeman (2002:166-187) similar to shadow puppet theatre, performances and readings of these cultural forms in forms such as shadow puppet theatre, staged theatrical productions, and improvised street theatre (orta oyunu) displayed a particular view of Ottoman society as comprised of members from historically-marked ethnic, religious, linguistic communities. In the context of popular cultural performances of the time, characters were portrayed as types that stand for whole communities, reproducing social hierarchy on the stage. For more details on these genres, see And 1963-64; 1964; 1977; Boratov 1978; Mizrahi 1991; Özhan 1994.
30. This new possibility for portraying Roman through a male charismatic personality has also been appropriated into commercial circuits. In summer of 2003, an Istanbul group led by a similarly attired Roman musician had recorded a CD and was featured on a mainstream television talk show.
31. For further information about the history and philosophy of Pozitif, see Pozitif’s website http://www.pozitif.info/ and Seeman 2002: 342-345.
32. For further biographical information, see Seeman 1995.33. Hüsnü and Pozitif continue to use this name for Hüsnü’s fusion-oriented ensemble. See the liner notes for Traditional Crossroads’ album Çiftetelli, a US-licensed version of Hüsnü Şenlendirici’s and Laço Tayfa’s album, Bergama Gaydası.