Abstracts of Papers, International Conference THE ZAZA PEOPLE: HISTORY, LANGUAGE, CULTURE, IDENTITY – Yerevan, Armenia, 28-30 October, 2011
ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS
THE ZAZA PEOPLE:
HISTORY, LANGUAGE, CULTURE, IDENTITY
October 28-30, 2011
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ZAZA STUDIES,
In commemoration of the 155th anniversary of the great German-Armenian scholar, pioneer of the Zaza Studies, Academician FRIEDRICH CARL ANDREAS (BAGRATOUNI) (1846-1930)
In the Framework of the Celebration of its 15-th Anniversary, the International Journal Iran and the Caucasus (BRILL, Leiden-Boston), in cooperation with Modus Vivendi Center, Yerevan; Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies, Yerevan; International Society for the Study of Turkey, Iran and the Caucasus (ISSTIC), and ARMACAD, is organising a Conference “The Zaza People: Language, Culture, Identity” (supported by Hyksos Foundation).
Victoria Arakelova (Armenia)
The Alevis, Shi‘a Underground
One of the most complicated tasks for the scholars of the Alevism is the colligation of various trends defined as “Alevi” groups/sects. Attempts of facile generalization of this complex phenomenon do not always take into consideration the ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic diversity of the huge Alevi conglomerate. The Alevism is one of the basic constituents of the Near Eastren “heretic” milieu, which makes the issue of its main markers and attributes even more topical. One of the most general definitions of the Alevism is‘Ali-oriented communities, which emphasizes the special status of ‘Ali in the cult. His veneration branded most of the Alevi sects as ghulat – “extreme”. Sometimes the Alevis of Turkey are referred to with an erroneous epithet Qizilbaš, which primarily presupposes Turkic attribution, while at least a quarter of the Alevis of Turkey is represented with the Iranian element – Zazas and Kurds. Each of the Alevi groups can be regarded as unique, having their own peculiarities, with certain elements of ethno-religious identity.
The paper discusses various approaches to the Alevi identity, analyses its diverse nature and, as a conclusion, specifies certain markers of the Alevism and modern trends within it.
Tigran Sarukhanyan (Armenia)
Carl Friedrich Andreas (1846-1930) and Zaza Studies
I did neither plan, nor predict that during my scholarly residence at the University of Göttingen, where Friedrich Andreas spent the most productive, the last 27 years of his remaining life, I would become interested in Andreas-Bagratuni’s personality and his academic work. I did visit his archives, kept not far from my University office, with a hope to find any indication on his connection with the Armenian Question and Armenians, but came across with the massive archival estates, which covers the secrets of the still much unknown to us ‘Orient’. It was both by an accident and also mystery, how I came across with the estates, where one can observe the borders of China, the Iranian plateau, the Armenian and Caucasian highlands, the hearth of Asia Minor. While looking for a Nagel, I met the Temples of Babylon.
It was well acknowledged that Andreas’ Nachlass (Andreas’ Archives) is less studied and much of his works was published by his students, prominent Iranists and Orientalists. This applies also to the research on history, culture and language of the Zazas. My paper is to enlighten the basis of the hypotheses, appeared during the research of Andreas about the origins of Iranian-speaking tribes Dailemi (Dêlamî), which took place in 1906, during one of his expeditions to the South of Caspian. The opinion was prevailing for Andreas’s students Karl Hadank, Oscar Mann in developing their studies on the Zazas of Dersim, who call themselves „Dimili”. As a matter of fact two Armenian scholars, Andreas and Andranig were the pioneers of Zaza studies, whose legacy is to be analyzed based on comparative historical and linguistic research.
History and Identity Issues
Chris Gratien (USA)
Kozan, Zeytun, Dersim: Resettlement, Ethnicity and the Frontiers of the Ottoman State
While the centuries of Ottoman rule in Anatolia were characterized by relative peace among the region’s different ethnic and religious groups, the more recent history of Ottoman and Republican Anatolia is rife with examples of communal violence and outright attacks on entire communities on the part of the state. The most common form of military measures taken against problematic Ottoman and Turkish subjects was that of “resettlement (iskân).” Drawing on archival material from the Başbakanlık archives in Istanbul as well as Turkish, Armenian and English historiography, this paper traces such measures as the modern state incrementally progressed across one its many nineteenth-century frontiers, the Taurus Mountains of Southern Anatolia. I focus on three cases: the forced settlement of transhumant Turkish and Kurdish tribes around Adana in 1865-66, the expulsion of Armenians from the mountain villages during World War I, and the destruction of the Zaza and Kurdish communities of Dersim in 1936-38. These events have been explained through the phenomenon of “Turkification,” but I argue that such a framework does not adequately explain their origins. Instead, I interpret these events as the simple logic of the modern state taken to its furthest extreme.
Garry Trompf (Australia)
Reflections on Ethno-Religious Minorities in the Near East
Victor Naedin-Raevskij (Russia)
The Zaza People in Turkey: The Problem of Identity
The ethnic identity of any non-Turkic ethnic group has never been taken into consideration in the Turkish Republic. The statement that all the citizens of Turkey are Turks, has been one of the pillars of the Turkish national ideology. Any attempt to declare somebody’s ethnic identity has been approached as propaganda of separatism. The situation slightly changed after the Desert-Storm operation, which also has brought to Turkey a whole wave of Kurdish refugees from Iraq and raised the question of their identity. Another factor was Turkey’s strivings to join EU, which would push the Turkish state to regulate its legislative system in accordance with the European requirements.
The paper examines the question of Zaza identity, its academic and political dimensions, particularly with regards to respect of the struggle of ethnic minorities for their political rights.
Eberhard Werner (Germany)
The Struggle for Zaza Identity – Cognitive Anthropology:Emic and Etic Aspects of the Zaza Worldview
Cognitive Anthropology as a means to combine linguistic and anthropological Data serves well to research a people group from the inside (Mother tongue speaker) and the outside (ethnographer). During more than 15 years of anthropologic-linguistical research on the worldview of the Zaza people some interesting aspects occurred. Besides their split in two religious directions (Alevism; Sunnism), their linguistical diversity of at least three main dialect variants (Northern, Southern, Eastern/Central Dialect), a background of a mixture of animistic, parsistic and mystic religions (Gnosticism; Dervish orders) one will find a richness of Armenian, Syrian-Orthodox, Nestorian, Jewish and other Christian cultural and linguistical influence on this people group. How is the recent worldview prescribed by the past? Which influences provided a path to the recent societal setting of the Zaza people?
Seyfi Cengiz (Germany)
Some introductory remarks on Dersim
The paper is a brief account providing a general view on Dersim – its geography, history, ethnic elements and linguistic mosaic, as well as the peculiarities of local culture, beliefs, etc.
In Dersim’s case the identity is not defined by race, blood or language, but by geography, history and culture.
Since early 16th century people of Dersim have been generally known as Qizilbash. The religion practiced in Dersim has specific features, which brand it as a unique phenomenon. Thus, they do not practice ”namaz”, do not go to mosques, do not undertake the “hajj” pilgrimage to Mecca, do not fast in the month of Ramadan, do not believe in ”Quran”.
The folklore of the region contains numerous sayings particularly emphasizing the universal human values: e.g. “Whatever it is you desire, look for it within yourself, not in Mecca, nor in Jerusalem”, ”Our Qıble is a human being”, etc.
Due to these beliefs Dersimis were consedered as heretics (Rafizi or Gulat in Arabic), and were heavily persecuted by the Ottoman rulers. The Dersim question was created by these Qizilbash persecutions. The paper focuses on various periods of the modern and new history of the region, the oppressions and persecutions the Dersimis have had to come through both during the Ottoman age and in the 20th century. By referring to the authentic facts and the analysis of H. Lewis Morgan in his book Ancient Society, the paper touches upon the communal characteristics of Dersim society, such as not even being familiar to the ideas of tax, military service and government in the period before the Dersim genocide of 1937-1938, and strongly opposes the Kemalist theses that the Turkish state had then engaged in a fight against feudalism in Dersim.
The paper refers to Dersim as the only location where almost all minority questions of Turkey touches one another and sees this feature of Dersim as an advantage rather than a disadvantage for a democratic solution to the minority questions.
Finally, the paper discusses the demands of the modern Dersimis, which are almost the same with those of the previous generations’ striving, although contains some new issues, such as the cancellation of the Munzur dams project and recognition of the 1938 Dersim genocide.
Although the present government touched certain taboo issues, opened them up and by doing so, triggered a wide-spread discussion, yet has not yet showed the necessary determination against the reactions from the status quo.
The real and permanent solution to minority questions in Turkey, the paper concludes, seems to be difficult without a peaceful mass movement.
Ceyhan Suvari and Elif Kanca (Turkey)
The Identity of Zaza in Turkish and Kurdish Literature
There are no any census data on the number of the Zaza people who mainly live in Central and Eastern Anatolia. However, it can be approximately estimated as 5-6 mlns. Some nationalistic circles, both Kurdish and Turkish, deny the existence of the Zaza identity. The research is aimed at the analysis of the Zaza identity pressed by the Turkish and Kurdish identities.
Munzur Chem (Germany)
Tha Zazas and their Ethnic Identity
The paper discusses various ethnic names applied to the Zaza people, trying to trace particular connection – both historical and present-day – of the terms Kirmanc and Zaza.
Another issue of the analysis is the topical discussion of the ethnic identity of the Zazas. Finally, the paper focuses on the role of the Zazas in the Kurdish national movement in last 100 years.
Nodar Mosaki (Russia)
The Zazas: A Kurdish Sub-ethnic Group or a Separate People? Idiom, Literature, Politics, Identity and Zaza Intellectuals’ Activities.
The definition of Zazaki as a separate language or as a Kurdish dialect is often determined by political orientation. Pro-Kurdish authors approach it as a Kurdish dialect, while the scholarly tradition defines it as North-West Iranian dialect. Since the late 80-s, the activities of Zaza intellectuals living in Europe has promoted the Zaza language and its standartization, and Zaza literature. Previousely, such activities had been mainly held within the so-called “Zaza branches” of Kurdish organizations, while later on, the Zaza publications were established. The paper is an attempt to analyse the present day situation and the status of Zazaki which seems to face kind of crises.
The future of the Zaza issue, in many aspects, depends, on the political processes in Turkey, prospects of the Kurdish and Zaza movement, and last but not least, further activities of Zaza intellectuals, who, even collaborating with Kurdish organizations, declare and urge on their separate, Zaza identity.
Serdar Yildirim (Turkey)
The Use of the Name “Zaza” and the Understanding of “Kurdishness” among Zaza Villages of Lice and Hani
The paper discusses the problem of the endo- and exo-ethnonyms applied to the Zazas. This issue is particularly important in any research on the genesis of this ethnic group. The elder generation of the Zazas living in Lice and Hani, still apply the term “Dimili” to themselves, while the representatives of younger generation have almost forgotten this authentic name. The paper based on field materials (interviews), analyses this shift of names in terms of understanding of “Kurdishness” among the residents of these villagers and the Zaza people in general.
Religion, Social Anthropology, Culture
Tereza Amryan (Armenia)
Some Parallels of the Alevi Zaza Religion and Other Non-Dogmatic Systems of the Region
The fact that most of the heterodox religious groups of the region share specific common features seems to become a locus communis in the academic scholarship. However, multiple striking parallels in some of the mentioned religious systems, particularly those concerning folk beliefs and the so-called characters of the folk pantheons, have never been in the focus of a general analysis. The paper tries to trace some of those common clichés, elements of Weltanschauung, as well as parallels in popular traditions (patron-deities, saints, etc.), which are attested in the religious systems and folk beliefs of the Alevi-Zazas, the Yezidis and the Ahl-i Haqq.
Nadire Güntaş Aldatmaz (Turkey)
The System of Folk Beliefs among the Dersim Population
The paper based exclusively on the author’s field materials collected in the rural area of Dersim region (from people over 80 years old), focuses on the unique folk beliefs of the Zaza people. The aim of the research is to demonstrate those specific features of the Zaza folk beliefs, which cannot be found in other traditions and represent the authentic culture typical to the region.
Raisa Amirbekyan (Armenia)
The Zaza Weaving Tradition as a Phenomenon of the Iranian – Mesopotamian – Caucasian Cultural Contact Zone (Preliminary Analysis)
The Zaza people have a long and distinguished applied arts tradition. In their mostly mountainous homeland, the Zazas have employed a colourful repertoire of traditional motifs in the rugs, bags, and covers that accompanied their everyday life through history. The Zazas’ homeland borders a number of modern political entities: Iran, Iraq, Turkey, the countries of the Caucasus, and Syria. This ethnos is justifiably proud of its rich oral literature—poems, tales, songs, proverbs and legends, many of which have achieved popularity among other peoples of the region. The paper aims at the preliminary overview and analysis of the Zaza weaving tradition’s phenomenon on the background of the cultural contact zone concept, using the materials from public and private collections of Europe and America.
Victoria Arakelova (Armenia) and Christine Grigorian (Armenia)
The Halvory Vank: An Armenian Monastery and Zaza Sanctuary
Among the Armenian monasteries, churches and sacred places worshipped also by Zazas, the Halvori Vank seems to be the most popular. Through the centuries, this monastery has been famous in the region as one of the main pilgrimage centres and a healing shrine, where people used to bring diseased in body and mind. Today, despite the absence of the Armenian population in Central Anatolia, even the ruins of the Halvori Vank have almost the same significance for the local population. Another illustrative argument of its sacredness is the fact that, among the elder generation it is still forbidden to take its name in vain. The paper is an attempt to generalize information on this phenomenon; the analysis being based on multiple historical sources, including those marginal and not available to wide academic audience – notes of travellers, scholars and local Armenian intellectuals primarily of the 19th century.
Garik Grigorian (Armenia)
Pre-Islamic Elements in the Alevi Zaza Religion
The religion of the Alevi Zazas has always attracted the attention of researchers. Being non-dogmatic, the Zaza syncretic religious system has absorbed a lot of non-Islamic elements. They are not homogenous and seem to have different background. There is rather sensible presence of the Armenian substratum in the religion of Zazas, and it can be explained by the many-century neighbourhood, as well as by the evidence that some Armenians have been assimilated in the Zaza milieu.
Besides, many travellers and experts in the field have attested a number of old Iranian elements in the Zaza folklore, which are the main topic of my presentation. The paper also examines the folklore of some other Iranian ethnic groups, particularly Mazandaranis, Gilanis and Gurans, who, despite a vast territory lying between these ethnic groups, share certain common elements.
Johnny Cheung (The Netherlands)
The Zazaki Verbal System vis-à-vis Kurdish and the Other Neighbouring Languages
Despite the fact that Zazaki has been in close contact with Kurdish for centuries, the Zazaki grammar shows many unique features that set it apart from this more dominant language. This can be observed in for instance in the verbal morphology. To quote a well known feature: the Zazaki present is constructed with a suffix in -en-: (North.) k-en-une ‘I do, make’, k-en-a ‘you do, make’, etc. In contrast, Kurdish has a construction de-ke-m , de-ke-y , etc. consisting of a pres. marker de-, pres. stem ke- and the pers. ending, that is similar to Persian mí-kon-am, mí-kon-i, etc. As already stated by Henning long ago (Henning, TPS1954: 175; Paul, Proceedings SIE 1998: 172 f.), this en-suffix may derive from the pres. participle in *-ant-. The use of such a present suffix would also be attested in Taleshi, ancient Azari, some Semnani and Caspian dialects, including Gorani (cf. Paul, l.c.). More verbal features or isoglosses will be presented here that would connect Zazaki to these North Western dialects more closely.
Adriano Rossi (Italy)
Once again on Iranian *kund
When in 2000-2001 I wrote my study on Middle Iranian gund [= Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 26 (2002), pp. 140-171], I did not know that Garnik Asatrian and Victoria Arakelova were treating a connected issue in the 5th volume of Iran & the Caucasus [2001, pp. 201-206]. The two articles complement each other, because I decided to leave out of my study (and from my subsequent one on Pahl.kundāg, Fst F. Pennacchietti, 2006) the series ‘blunt, obtuse, foolish’ of Prs. kond, Taj. kund etc., leaving open the question of its belonging to the main series of Prs. kond, konde ‘stump’ (also in modern Arm. dialects), and Prs. gond ‘testicle’ and gonde ‘lump of dough/meat’.
Asatrian and Arakelova, on their part, started from an alleged hapax in late classic Armenian (Oskipcorik) kund, a clear Iranian borrowing meaning ‘sorceress’, and investigated on four homonymouskund-forms, among which still in usage in Arm. dialects seems to be kund ‘sluggish’, while kund ‘bald’, attested in the Bible translations, is continued in modern Armenian in some denominative formations. Their conclusion is that, since “Iranian kund(-) has no convincing etymology”, a phonosymbolic interpretation may be suggested, hinting at the pattern kV(n)d/t, g(γ)V(n/m)d/t.
In the present paper the author – not excluding a possible pressure of phonosymbolic structures on the whole lexical family or some members of it – will argue that (1) some forms and meanings are also represented in languages from surrounding areas and different families (Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Afroasiatic, especially gund ‘stump’), with the original/core meaning being ‘globular, circular’; (2) while there are many inexplicable alternances of g°/k°, *gund represents basically the globular/circular meanings, and *kund the ‘stump’ ones; (3) some meanings are restricted to Iranian alone; (4) the group ‘blunt, sluggish, defective’ (present in Iranian, Indo-Aryan and Dravidian) could be a separate development.
Mesut Keskin (Germany)
Notes on Zaza-Armenian Language Contact
Although there can be found many aspects of comonness between Zazas and Armenians which is to reduce to the direct neighbourly contact along the centuries, very few researches on this subject have been done yet. Languages are one of the most concrete evidence for mirroring these contacts. Apart from that Armenian somehow has a huge of Iranian (mostly Parthian) superstrate of loanwords, in Zazaki, especially on the Nothern Dialect (Dersim, Erzincan, Varto etc.), the Armenian influence is obvious already by a superficial look. Besides, the high amount of Armenian loanwords in Zazaki especially in the agricultural domain, the influence on the most Nothern-Zaza vernaculars (especially Dersim) is also visible at the phonem inventory, as observed in the presence of alveolar affricates [tsh], [ts] and [dz] which led to renewal in phonology in the occurence of the post-alveolar sibilants [ʃ], [ʒ], [tʃh], [tʃ] and [dʒ] as complementary distributed allophones, as well as existence of aspirated and unaspirated pairs of the voiceless plosives /č, k, p, t/ like in Armenian and Georgian and last but not least the syntactical position of the separable preverbs in Zazaki comapared with Armenian negation copula, which behave in both languages prepositional i.e. preceding the verbal or noun phrase.
Ardashir Zolfaghari (Iran)
Kurdish, Zazaki and Awromani
The paper is an attempt of the linguistic evaluation of the relations between Kurdish, Zazaki and Awromani. I argue that judging by all the main linguistic parameters and criteria, Kurdish, Zazaki and Awromani are separate languages; Zazaki and Awromani being closer to each other.
Bläsing Uwe (The Netherlands)
An Enigmatic Name for Wild Pears in Zazaki
Anatolia and the southern Caucasian area are famous for their richness of pears. Therefore, hundreds of names are to be found. In the conference paper, a pear name prominent in Zazaki and its distribution in some of the surrounding languages will be discussed under etymological considerations.
Memet Ali Demirdağ (Turkey)
Zazaki – the Language in Danger: Socioliguistic Approach
According to available written resources, Zazas are living in their current territory approximately for 700-800 years. Their basic income is based on agriculture and livestock. This way of living also affects their language seriously. Zazaki has been for centuries developed in this problematic geography and gained its certain current characteristics. Unfortunately, the natural development of Zazaki stopped in the midst of 20th century. Due to losing of resistance points Zazaki is facing the danger of extinction. When we took written resources into consideration it can be seen that Zazaki, a North-Western Iranian language, especially during the last two centuries, has been influenced, culturally and linguistically, Kurmanjes, Armenians and Turks.
In this work it will try to explain the position of Zazaki in the historical context, with regard to relations with these three languages by means of sociolinguistic concepts and theoretical framework. On the other side, the Zazaki dialects and local variants will be discussed, taking into consideration religious and cultural diversities.
Vardan Voskanian (Armenia)
A Note on Zazaki “Partridge”
The present contribution will focus on the discussion of an exclusive lexical isogloss between Zazaki and other Northwestern Iranian languages of the so-called Caspian group. Despite its present-day geographical remoteness, the Zazaki shares a considerable number of important lexical isoglosses mainly common for the Iranian languages spread on the Caspian shores and the neighbouring areas. This fact, parallel with other linguistic evidences, once again comes to prove the Daylamite origins of the Zazaki.
Nazmi Çiçek (Turkey)
The Effect of Turkish as Official Language on Bilingualism in the Village of Êxê Bulgurcuk
Êxê ( the official name is Bulgurcuk) is a village with 300 dwellings in (locally called) Oxi region in Karakoçan district of Elazig Province (east of Turkey). The village has a population of about 1500. The residents of the village speak both Kurmanci and Zaza. Yet, multilingualism experience of the village has not been always limited to Kurmanci and Zaza only. About 100 years, Armenian was also spoken in this place, since the village was also populated by Armenians. However, despite this rich experience of multilingualism, today the multilingual life of residents is changing dramatically. Among new generations in Êxê, the role of Turkish is constantly growing, not only because it is the official language in Turkey, but also because it is the language of education in school and the language of daily economical relations in vicinity towns and cities. As a result of this situation, the new generation of Êxê is gradually losing Zazaki. In this paper, I will try to discuss the prevalence of Turkish, particularly among the new generation, as well as its influences on multilingualism in Êxê. The main point to be focused son, is the change in rates of speaking Kurmanci and Zazaki among the new-generation Zazas of village.
Bilal Zilan (Turkey)
The Work on Standartization of the Vate Group. Çalışma Grubu’nun Standartlaşma Çalışmaları
The paper presents the project of a group of intellectuals (the Vate group), initiated in 1996, on the standardization of the Zaza language. The article examines the methods of the works on standardization, linguistic norms, word-formation, etc. One of the main accents of the work is made on the written standards of the Zazaki.
Adnan Oktay (Turkey)
Melaye Ehmede Xasi’s Mevlid: One of the Zaza Books’ Evaluation with the Techniques Of Classic Literature
Melayê Ehmedê Xasî is one of the pioneers of the Zaza literature. The paper focuses on Ehmedê Xasî’sMevlid, one of the earliest works in Zaza. The work will be examined in terms of techniques of classical literature and its literary value. We will discuss such concepts as Mevlid’s world of thought and imagination, the literary art, poetic features and the verse. Besides, the relationship of Melayê Ehmedê Xasî with the Islamic Classical Literature will be revealed.
Nezvat Anuk (Turkey)
The Chronological Analysis of Zazaki Tales
The main purpose of this study is to give a panorama of the works on Zazaki (Kirdkî) tales, which constitute an important part of the oral literature in Zazaki. Zazaki tales have been subject of various academic studies. My paper concentrates on multiple written tales; it is an attempt of classification of the Zazaki tales, from the first fixed texts to our time. It will be based on the journals and books containing Zazaki tales, as well as on the academic researches related to the subject. My aim is to give a wide overview of the published tales in the light of the cultural, ethnic and linguistic debates.
Lorin Demirel (Turkey)
The Genre of Novel in the Zaza Literature
The paper is an attempt to trace the development of the genre of novel in Zazaki, its main concepts, trends and its place in the modern Zaza literature.
Ahmet Kirkan (Turkey)
Osman Efendi from Siverek and his poem on Mewlidi “BİYİŞE PEXEMBERİ”
Mewlit (lit. “birth, coming to life”), the term referring to the birth of prophet Mohammad, denotes the celebration of this particular event as well as some other significant fests and rituals in the Muslim calendar. The same term is applied to a literary genre – that of long poems written in the mesnevi form and praising prophet Mohammad’s birth, life, etc. The recitations of the Mewlits have become an essential part of the above mentioned celebrations among many people of the region.
The paper discusses the significance of the Mewlids for the development of literature in Zazaki. The Mewlids were among the first literary works written by the Zaza intellectuals themselves and published in Zazaki. The paper analyses several Mewlidi works, written by different authors.