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Interview with Nahrein Network Visiting Scholar: Dr. Olcay Muslu Gardner

Interview with Nahrein Network Visiting Scholar: Dr. Olcay Muslu Gardner

The Nahrein Network Visiting Scholarship Scheme aims to help Iraqi, Iranian, Lebanese and Turkish scholars engage in the sustainable development of cultural heritage. It enables scholars to visit the UK for 1-2 months for training and research. It is jointly run with the BIAA, as well as the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI), the Iran Heritage Foundation (IHF), and the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL).

The BIAA asked Dr. Olcay Muslu Gardner - a recent Nahrein Network Visiting Scholar, how the scheme helped her with her research and why she would recommend the scheme to other scholars.

What are you researching?

My work is concerned with identifying dimensions of sustainability for traditional music in the region of Sanlurfa, Turkey.

What did you do whilst in the UK?

I gave two paper presentations with my colleague Dr. Tom Parkinson. The first paper presentation was at the National Identity, Culture and Music Education in International Symposium of Research in Music Education 2, and the second was “Diversity in Higher Music Education in Turkey: An Ethnographic Study” at RiME 2019 Conference on 22nd-26th April 2019, at Bath Spa University. This symposium introduced new ideas and concepts from the forthcoming Routledge Handbook to the Sociology of Music Education. I participated in seminars, conferences and talks within the area of my research and expertise at SOAS, and also at different universities and institutions. To this end, I have participated in musicological/ethnomusicological conferences and talks at SOAS, the City University of London, Bath Spa University, King’s College and the Royal Anthropological Institution. Thanks to these academic interactions, I was able to see various approaches in the study of intangible cultural heritage and cultural sustainability as conducted by distinguished international scholars.

I gave briefings on “Culture and Society in Turkey” and “The Parameters of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Society in Turkey” to the recently appointed Swiss and Irish ambassadors to Turkey following a request from the SOAS University of London Research and Enterprise Office.

I gave a seminar with Dr. Rachel Harris entitled: “Approaches to Intangible Cultural Heritage in Turkey and China” at the Yunus Emre Institute in London on the 14th June. The event details can be reached at the following link:

I was also interviewed for a podcast recording regarding the sustainability of traditional music and its dimensions in the north Aegean rural area and southeast of Turkey by Research Associate and Nahrein Network Coordinator Dr. Mehiyar Kathem.

Why was the UK the best option for your research?

The UK was my best option because of its research opportunities, free access to ethnomusicological studies, and the rich interdisciplinary network within social sciences.

How did the Nahrein Network Visiting Scholarship Scheme benefit you and your research?

Thanks to the funding support of the Nahrein Network Scholarship Scheme, jointly run with the British Institute at Ankara (BIAA), I could conduct most of my research. This allowed me to broaden my horizons in the sustainability of music and its related stakeholders, such as music education, cultural heritage and cultural policies.
Why you would recommend the Nahrein Network Visiting Scholarship Scheme to other scholars? 
I would recommend the scheme to other scholars because I believe it is a good opportunity for researchers and early-career academics who are seeking new methods, approaches and developments in the sustainability of cultures. Even if it is a short-term program, I think it is an important experience to gain different perspectives.

Don't forget that the deadline for the next Nahrein Network Visiting Scholarship Scheme is on the 15th August 2019! Click here to apply!

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