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The Question of Identity: Ethnicity, Language, Religion, and Gender

Islamic Period:  The Concept of Ethnicity

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Men in a Turkish Black Sea Province Dance at the Horon

Men in a Turkish Black Sea Province Dance at the Horon

The population exchanges between Greece and Turkey in 1923, in pursuit of ethnically homogenous nation-states on both sides, sometimes involved definitions of identity based on ethnicity (particularly language) and sometimes on religion. Many of the Greek language-speaking Muslims of the eastern Black Sea area, around today’s Trabzon, remained in place in the new Turkish Republic, and the area, though overwhelming Sunni Muslim, remains an ethnic patchwork. Here men from the Greek-speaking villages around Tonya and the Turkish-speaking villages around Akcaabat join forces at a high-pasture festival to dance the horon, to the sound of zurna (shawm) and davul (drum). This is a shared Black Sea dance, one that distinguishes them sharply from their Kurdish and Turkish neighbors over the mountains on the Anatolian plateau.

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