Lecture

MINSTRELS OF ANATOLIA (AŞIK) AND UKRAINE (KOBZAR):
GUARDIANS OF TRADITION

by NATALIE KONONENKO
Professor and Kule Chair in Ukrainian Ethnography,
University of Alberta

Sunday, November 22, 2015 | 3:30 pm
Harvard University
Center for Government and International Studies
Belfer Room S-020
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge

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Asiks

Folksongs are the lovely lyric pieces that everyone sings.  In some cultures, there are also folksongs that are performed by singers who receive special training and are often considered endowed with a special spiritual gift. They are associated with the sacred and divine inspiration. In Turkey such singers are called Aşık and in Ukraine, Turkey’sKobzari neighbor, they are called Kobzar.

While the folk songs that all people sing speak of personal issues such a love, longing, delight in beauty, and sorrow as the result of loss, the songs performed by Aşıks and Kobzars speak on behalf of society as a whole. They often have historical content and reflect historical events. Recent scholarship shows that the songs of Aşıks and Kobzars record and disseminate a special type of historical information, a type that is often overlooked but crucial to understanding a people and their culture. The “Halk Hikayeleri” (folk tales) of Aşıks and the dumy and historical songs of Kobzars sing of the ordinary person’s perspective on historical events. They powerfully convey what it was like to live through the turning points of history.


NATALIE KONONENKO
Professor and Kule Chair in Ukrainian Ethnography,
University of Alberta

Natalie KononenkoNatalie Kononenko's publications include the award-winning Ukrainian Minstrels; And the Blind Shall Sing, Slavic Folklore: A Handbook, and several edited volumes.  She served as editor of Folklorica, the Journal of the Slavic and East European Folklore Association.  Kononenko has had extensive fieldwork experience.  In addition to Ukraine and Ukrainian Canada, her primary research interests, she has worked in Turkey and among the Ukrainian Diaspora in Kazakhstan.  Her articles in Canadian and international journals cover topics such as folk narrative, digital humanities, folklore and film, ritual practice, and Diasporic communities. Kononenko’s work with digital technologies has received Canada government support and is currently being used by educators in Alberta and internationally. Students contributing to her “Alive” series of sites have won research awards.


Co-presented with the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI)