Nicholas Sean Glastonbury
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNew York, Graduate Center, City U. of
Grant numberGr. 9871
Approve DateMay 8, 2019
Project TitleGlastonbury, Nicholas (New York, Graduate Center, City U. of) "Radio Free Kurdistan: A National Soundscape in the Shadow of Soviet Empire"
In 1955, a Kurdish radio program began broadcasting in Yerevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia. While the broadcasts were intended to shore up Kurdish peasants’ support for the Communist Party in Armenia, its broadcast footprint extended far across the Turkish border. The broadcasts quickly became popular across Turkey’s Kurdish regions, due to the Turkish government’s violent policies prohibiting the use of the Kurdish language. While radio sets and cassette recordings of the broadcasts began circulating throughout Turkish Kurdistan, the Turkish military seized radios and cassettes and scrambled the airwaves, interfering with the radio signal in order to curb the potential for insurgency brought on by these sonic media. This project examines the social and political life of sonic media in transnational Kurdistan. Through sixteen months of ethnographic and archival research, it explores the formation of listening Kurdish publics in Turkey amid Cold War struggles for geopolitical hegemony. My dissertation traces the relationship between sound and politics in this (post)socialist context. It investigates the transnational circulation of Kurdish-language sonic media during the Cold War, advancing anthropological inquiry into technology, sound, and political formations, and it challenges the assumptions through which the Middle East is constructed as an object of anthropological study.