Oriental Fantasy II
Feb. 27, 2017, 5:15 p.m.
Catch dj Yasemin Akcaguner Thursdays at 10AM - 12 PM! WBAR: where are you from? Y: I am from Istanbul, Turkey. WBAR: how long have you been a WBAR DJ? Y:This is my second semester as a WBAR DJ so since September. WBAR: what's your show about and how did you come up with your title? Y: This is a bit of a long story and not quite fitting with the nonchalant wbar aesthetic but here it goes: Right now I'm continuing my show from last semester, entitled Oriental Fantasy. It was my co-dj from last semester, Saaleh Baseer, who came up with the title. Saaleh and I have taken many classes in history and Middle Eastern studies together but in the spring of 2016 we took a history seminar together entitled "Ottomans and the West: 1700-1900" together and it was taught by a visiting professor from Bogazici University of Istanbul who was himself a descendant of the Ottoman royal family! The class was phenomenal and spiked our interests in Ottoman and Middle Eastern history. At the time, I had started listening to this thing called the Ottoman History Podcast and wanted to do a radio show that would be a mix of OHP type podcasts showcasing student research with music from the Middle East and South Asia. So I roped Saaleh into doing a radio show with me and we brainstormed some names over some very disappointing pasta bowls at Ferris and he came up with the sarcastic title "Oriental Fantasy" because as students in the Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies department a lot of the scholarship we read is about deconstructing orientalist assumptions/stereotypes/tropes. For the second semester of the show, I'm continuing solo (Sorry Saaleh, u know i still love u) except I've changed the format of the show to host one student guest (usually a senior writing a thesis) each episode. Each episode I interview the guest about the cool research they are doing related to orientalism/ colonialism/ imperialism/ modernity in general and we play music that we both feel like playing, often times music that relates to the content of the conversation. So two weeks ago I did an episode with my friend Katie McMahon who is writing her MESAAS thesis on literary representations of Barbary corsairs in 17th century English and Arabic literature and we played lots of sea shanties as well as the trap remix of the Spongebob theme song. That was a lot of fun. As a senior writing a thesis in MESAAS I'm surrounded by all these friends whose research continuously amazes me and I just feel like everybody needs to know about the very cool, often niche, things we are trying to uncover. At Columbia, outside of classrooms I feel like we don't really have spaces where we can just talk about our research interests in an informal way. So I wanted my show to be a platform for these kinds of conversations this semester. It's also been a good excuse to connect with a lot of people that I thought were cool but hadn't really gotten the chance to be friends with. If you are someone or know someone who is doing very interesting research on campus please reach out to me!! (ya2300) WBAR: what is your process for making a playlist? Y: Now that I've switched my format to a guest each episode, I consult with the guest before the episode to create the playlist. But often times, I have this massive oriental fantasy playlist that I'm pulling tracks from, and whenever I'm not sure what to play I default to Turkish pop or some good old Fairuz. One great thing about having a guest each episode is that they come in with this repository of musical knowledge that I simply don't have and they broaden my musical scope as a dj with their recommendations. WBAR: what are some songs you played recently that you love? Y: I've been playing some Swet Shop Boys recently because I think their lyrics about borders, deportation, racism and exclusion are particularly relevant in the aftermath of Trump's racist, anti-Muslim executive order. Other than them, one of my high school friends started an improvisational jazz band in Istanbul called Lopenstraat (they are on Spotify!) and I love detecting the subtle Turkish folk tunes within their music - they are really great! And obviously, I always love playing the Turkish megastar Tarkan on air. WBAR: what's your favorite WBAR memory? Y: The first show in which I invited a guest to talk about their research was when I asked my friend Aiden from my thesis seminar to come to my show last semester. He is writing two theses and they both relate to nationalism in some sense and we were talking about them on air. He quoted Roberto Bolano, the author who is the subject of one his theses, who apparently once said in an interview when asked if he felt like he was the national of a particular country: "My only country is my two children and wife and perhaps, though in second place, some moments, streets, faces or books that are in me..." So I asked Aiden if he felt any kind of nationalist sentiment towards any country and he said no, and that perhaps that's why he was writing about nationalism so much. He said that each undergraduate thesis was actually just an autobiography and I agreed with him, because I'm writing about the perceptions of time in the late Ottoman Empire and time management is something I completely lack (should not have spent this much time writing these answers, oh well.) So now I've begun asking my guests how their thesis or research is autobiographical and the answers are proving to be revealing about that person's history in the most beautiful way.