Resonances of Mnemonic Community: Turkey’s Kurdish Question in European Opera

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In this chapter, Pieter Verstraete identifies Kurdish opera as a rather odd case of theatre in Turkey's Kemalist history of ‘communalist’ consciousness, based on the pinnacles of modernity and nationhood, now in crisis. Amidst this intense political-historical moment, Verstraete considers how music theatre plays an essential role in commemorative practices, reasserting this significance through Aristotle’s Poetics, which avow theatre’s capacity for learning through repetition, as with the reliving of past events that theatre produces. Through the first opera adaptation of Puccini's Tosca in Kurmanji by Theater RAST (Amsterdam) in collaboration with Amed Şehir Tiyatrosu (Diyarbakir), he proposes then to examine music theatre for its capacity to express issues of identity, memory and commemoration of subaltern communities like the Kurds in Turkey, and address them as 'mnemonic’ (Zerubavel 1996), (re)imagined (Anderson 1991) and 'inoperative' communities (Nancy 1991) through 'musicking' (Small 1999) in today's translocal space of theatre, in reaching out to new global diasporas and culturally mixed audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheatre, Performance and Commemoration
Subtitle of host publicationStaging Crisis, Memory and Nationhood
EditorsPieter Verstraete, Miriam Haughton, Alinne Balduino P. Fernandes
Place of Publication6
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781350306776, 9781350306783, 9781350306806
ISBN (Print)9781350306769
Publication statusPublished - 27-Mar-2023

Publication series

NameCultural Histories of Theatre and Performance
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing


  • theatre studies
  • performance studies
  • memory studies
  • cultural memory
  • commemoration
  • imagined community
  • inoperative community
  • decolonization
  • mnemonic socialization
  • musicking
  • opera
  • Kurdish Question
  • Turkey
  • intercultural communication

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