Approaching the pir-talip relationship as a tool for understanding Alevi deyiş/nefes

markus dressler's picture
Type: 
Workshop
Date: 
October 9, 2020 to October 10, 2020
Location: 
Germany
Subject Fields: 
Literature, Religious Studies and Theology

In the form of an online video conference, this workshop plans to engage with the Alevi deyiş/nefes tradition with a particular focus on its significance for the pir-talip relationship. We hope that the discussion of this relationship can open a productive horizon for a new conceptual engagement with Alevi poetic texts. The workshop will be bilingual (in English and Turkish).

Conventional approaches that deal with the Alevi deyiş/nefes tradition usually discuss the “Aleviness” of these texts based on specific external and content-related characteristics. On the one hand, these approaches attribute the specific morphology of Alevi music and poetry to the “oral tradition” in which it has been embedded. On the other hand, they tend to emphasize the importance of music and poetry for the transmission of religious and cultural knowledge within a thematic framework specific to Alevism. However, the role of Alevi deyiş/nefes and the transmission of “Alevi” knowledge through them have rarely been studied from the point of view of media and literary studies. Our workshop would like to venture in this direction and to initiate a discussion that engages with the Alevi poetic tradition by asking to what extent the socio-religious relationship between pir and talip could be used (1) as a hermeneutic template to understand some of the basic features of what we may term with some caution the “Alevi poetic tradition”, and (2) to make the textual morphology of deyiş/nefes accessible to heuristic interpretation.

The didactic functions of deyiş/nefes can be explained in most concrete form through their role in the spiritual education process of the talip. They provide access to understanding the path (yol), which we in hindsight label “Alevi”, its corresponding worldview, as well as practical experiences on the path. Thus, deyiş/nefes can be used as a starting point for the interpretation of Alevi doctrines, faith practice, and self-understanding. Indeed, the relationship between the talip and the pir constitutes the smallest and most elementary link in the Alevi chain of tradition (“el ele el hakka”). In this context, “talip” and “pir” establish a reciprocal relationship between two positions on the path. Since each pir has himself also to have a pir, this socio-religious relationship (irşad) emerges as the basic principle of Alevi social organization. Additionally, this relationship shapes the practice of faith, as well as the formation of the spiritual path according to the theological-philosophical ideal of the “perfect human” (insan-ı kâmil). A primary aim of Alevi poetry/singing is to explain various doctrines of faith, historical and mythical events, and ethical principles. This has an effect on the textual morphology of the deyiş/nefes. Depending on context, the perspective, the viewpoint, and the tone of the poetic speaker often change, even in one piece. He can express his personal experiences with the path from the perspective of the talip and soon after instruct or even judge his addressees from the position of the pir.

Despite the often emphasized educational character of the deyiş/nefes ­– which is not only a product of Alevi traditions, but has in the modern context also been impacted by the musical industry and print media publications –, approaches that aim at a text-based analysis of the Alevi poetic tradition with regard to its role in the religious practice are lacking. With this workshop, we would like to put the focus on the textual mechanisms in the deyiş/nefes, and their promoted didactic role in the spiritual education of the addressees. We thus suggest thinking of the relationship between pir and talip as a starting point for a hermeneutical reading of the Alevi poetic tradition.

 

Program

 

First Day / Birinci Gün (9.10.2020)

 

Opening/Açılış (12.45 pm, CET/OAS)

 

1:00-2:30 pm: Perspectives that the pir-talip relationship provides for an examination of Alevi poetry / Pir-talip ilişkisinin Alevi şiirinin incelenmesi açısından sağladığı potansiyel perspektifler üzerine

 

The first panel will discuss the extent to which a defining description of an “Alevi poetic tradition” based on its didactic work is possible. Can its didactic purpose, epitomized in the pir-talip relationship, be regarded as a basic characteristic of deyiş/nefes

 

İlk panel, didaktik işleviyle öne çıkan şiirsel geleneğin tanımlayıcı bir okumasının ne ölçüde mümkün olduğunu tartışmayı hedefliyor. Pir-talip ilişkisiyle ilgili olarak, didaktik işlevsellik deyiş/nefeslerin temel bir özelliği olarak kabul edilebilir mi?

 

Introductory Input / Giriş bildirisi: Hasret Tıraz (Leipzig University)

 

 

3:30-5:00 pm: The significance of deyiş/nefes in the spiritual education process of talip in Alevism / Alevilikte talip'in tinsel eğitim sürecinde deyiş/nefeslerin önemi

 

The second panel focusses on the didactic utility of poetry in the pir-talip relationship and initiates a discussion on the use of other Alevi and Bektashi sources (oral and written) for investigating the role of poetry in the education of the talip.

 

İkinci panel, pir-talip ilişkisinde şiirin didaktik kullanımına odaklanmaktadır. Yanı sıra Alevi ve Bektaşi (sözlü ve yazılı) kaynaklarının talip eğitimindeki şiirin rolünün araştırılması için bir temel oluşturup oluşturmadığı tartışılmaktadır.

 

Introductory Input / Giriş bildirisi: Mark Soileau (Hacettepe University, Ankara)

 

 

Second Day / İkinci Gün (10.10.2020)

 

9:00-10:30 pm: Hermeneutic potentials and difficulties of a heuristic reading of Alevi poetry based on its didactic use with focus on the pir-talip relationship / Pir-talip ilişkisiyle ilgili didaktik kullanımı temelinde Alevi şiirinin sezgisel bir okuması -hermenötik- açısından potansiyelleri veya zorlukları

 

The third panel intends to discuss whether and to what extent the pir-talip relationship can be regarded as a template for analyzing Alevi doctrines and worldview in the poems. It also addresses the question as to whether the pir-talip relationship can be a basis for a comparative description of the Alevi poetical tradition with similar mystical currents, for example of other Sufi milieus.

 

Üçüncü panel, pir-talip ilişkisinin, şiirlerdeki Alevi doktrinlerin ve dünya görüşünün boyutlarının analiz edilmesi bakımından şablon olarak kabul edilip edilemeyeceğini tartışmayı amaçlamaktadır. Ayrıca, pir-talip ilişkisine bu açıdan bir yaklaşımın, Alevi şiir geleneğinin benzer mistik akımlarla, örneğin diğer sufi akımlarla karşılaştırmalı bir tanımının temeli olup olmadığı sorusunu irdelemeyi öngörüyor.

 

Introductory Input / Giriş bildirisi: Ulaş Özdemir (Istanbul University)

 

 

11:30-13:00 pm: Textual strategies in the deyiş/nefes that express the pir-talip relationship and affirm the authority of the path for the audiences / Deyiş/nefeslerde pir ve talip ilişkisini ifadelendiren ve yolun otoritesini tasdikleyen metinsel stratejiler

 

The last panel concentrates on the relationship between specific themes and specific didactic aspirations in the Alevi poems. What mechanisms are used to strengthen the identification of the audience with the recited word and can they be interpreted as strategies of poetic construction of Alevi identity?

 

Son panel, Alevi şiirlerinde belirli temalar ve didaktik öğeler arasındaki ilişki üzerine yoğunlaşmaktadır. Dinleyicinin kendisini verilen mesajla özdeşleştirmesi için hangi mekanizmalar kullanılmaktadır? Bunlar ne ölçüde Alevi kimliğinin şiirsel inşa stratejileri olarak yorumlanabilir?

 

Introductory Input / Giriş bildirisi: Zeynep Oktay Uslu (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul)

 

 

Concluding Reflections / Çalıştayın Kapanışı:  13:00-13.15 pm

Contact Info: 

Online workshop coorganized by Hasret Tıraz and Markus Dressler, Leipzig University, Institute for
the Study of Religions.
The conference will take place as a bilingual (English & Turkish) workshop with a – due to the format - limited number of invited
participants. We have room for a small number of additional participants.