Nicholas Sean Glastonbury

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9871

Approve Date

May 8, 2019

Project Title

Glastonbury, Nicholas (New York, Graduate Center, City U. of) "Radio Free Kurdistan: A National Soundscape in the Shadow of Soviet Empire"

NICHOLAS GLASTONBURY, then a graduate student at City University of New York, Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded funding in May 2019 to aid research on “Radio Free Kurdistan: A National Soundscape in the Shadow of Soviet Empire,” supervised by Dr. Mandana E. Limbert. Drawing on 16 months of multi-sited and multi-modal fieldwork between 2016 and 2021, this project tracked the material and cultural circuits of sonic media across space and time; in so doing. From the midtwentieth century to the present, sonic media have come to serve as technologies of cultural persuasion and vectors of Kurdish political affect. The research for this project followed the cultural and political itineraries of sonic media and listening in Kurdistan, from Soviet Kurdish radio broadcasting and pirated cassettes to postsocialist archives, DJ booths, streaming musics, and pandemic-produced virtual spaces for listening. These itineraries map not only the emergence and circulation of Kurdish notions of tradition, heritage, and cultural memory, but also the methods of counterinsurgency intended to surveil and capture Kurdish cultural production. Because these scales of media practice cut across the obscurantist boundaries of region formations—themselves products of cold war epistemics—this project offers a novel perspective on Kurdistan and the contemporary making of the Middle East. In so doing, it showed how practices of sounding and listening confront the ongoing durabilities of the cold war in occupied Kurdistan and animate shifting concepts of history, tradition, futurity, and belonging.