“Multifaceted is the keyword to explain my research” – 5in10 with Nevin Şahin

Nevin Şahin is a research associate at the Orient-Institut Istanbul. She completed her PhD in Sociology in 2016 upon her research on music and power among performers of Mevlevi music, which was awarded Thesis of the Year by the Graduate School of Social Sciences at Middle East Technical University. She worked in several research projects, including a comparative theoretical research on makam music and Byzantine music. Besides her research profile, she taught courses on English, Introduction to Sociology, and Religious Music Traditions. In 2018, she joined the Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae team.

How do you explain your current research projects to your students?

Multifaceted would be the keyword to explain my research. Coming from a music-ethnographic background, I’m currently going back and forth between archives and XML codes for enhancing the Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae (CMO), which, to put it in short, is a source catalogue of 19th century Near Eastern music sources. In the meantime I am performing medieval secular music in Ensemble Galatia, which also integrates constant music practice to my research.

What were academic or personal inspirations that led to your current research?

My education kept changing course towards my personal desires; I didn’t study music as I was studying for my bachelor’s degree but my passion for digging into music resulted in an MS in anthropology and a PhD in sociology, both focusing on music and putting myself in a performer-researcher role throughout my studies. Martin Stokes’s ethnographic work on popular musics in Turkey was a huge influence back in my first years as a graduate student.

How are you ‘doing’ research? What are your most important research methods (interviews, archives, excavations…?)

In my current research in CMO, I’m mostly in the digital humanities domain and dealing with metadata to a great extent. This computer-friendly research environment helped me to better develop digital ethnographic skills as my hands-on research now needs social distancing. I can now replace face-to-face interviews with Facebook chats and Instagram live-streams can soon turn into fieldwork footage.

Which publications or academic events (workshops, conferences, lecture series…) did inspire you recently?

Although no more recent, the Popular Music and Public Diplomacy conference I attended in Dortmund made a huge impact on my conventional understanding of academicking, and I am using the word in the sense Christopher Small used musicking. At this conference I first witnessed innovative panel styles with different levels of performativity and interaction.

Do you think that academic mobility changes the way in which research projects are conceptualized? What are your personal experiences in this regard?

The answer would be an absolute yes in my type of research. On the ethnographic side, years-long discussions on the flow of fieldwork established mobility as a huge part of researching, on the digital side on the other hand, projects being carried on in multiple locations face opportunities in one location and lack of them in another, making mobility an inevitable part of research design. Last but not least, having an ensemble spread all around the world turns research for performance, which includes identifying medieval manuscripts here and there, comparing different editions and recordings, analyzing studies on performing medieval music, and implementing them in compositions and performances under non-conventional conditions, into a dance with feet stomping in different countries.


Citation: ”Multifaceted is the keyword to explain my research“ – 5in10 with Nevin Şahin, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 05.05.2020, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/23746.


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