Dr Michalis Poupazis
School of English
Michalis Poupazis is an ethnomusicologist and an IRC Government of Ireland Fellow based in the Study of Religions Department. Until recently he was the MA Ethnomusicology Programme Coordinator and a Part-Time Lecturer at the Department of Music. During fellowship, Michalis will complete his monograph entitled: Musics, New Spaces, and the Mediterranean Appeal of the Cypriot Diaspora in Britain. To date, his research has centred on questions of ethnicity and identity, reconciliation, transnational movements, metanarrative analysis, and the history and theory of ethnomusicology and popular music study. His research addresses modern Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, and the Cypriot diaspora in the UK with broader interest across the Mediterranean and Europe.
Outline of Project
Philologists, archaeologists and historians have studied the pre-Christian religions of northern Europe for centuries, scrutinizing in impressive detail topics like myths’ origins and the forms of rituals. Yet, in all this time, no attention has been paid to the ways in which conceptualizations of gods changed according to their worshippers’ circumstances.
Two moments experienced with Birmingham-based Cypriots in the last five years have particularly stuck with me: being offered some traditional Cypriot cinnamon-cookies in the (Greek-speaking) Mallas family’s living room; and having the exact same culinary experience at a Turkish-speaking household a month later, in the Ahmets’ kitchen. In both moments, beyond the tangible delights of these desserts, the smell of cinnamon filling Cypriot home spaces overpowered my ethnography. And all this while talking about music as a way of extending our senses in two ethnically opposing Cypriot households’ threshold-spaces, and sharing the same dessert bites.
These shared Cypriot senses also extend to a numerous other cultural resources. What gives them a clear Cypriot character, and thus makes them Cypriot in the consciousness of modern Cypriots, is the fact that they do not originate in any way from the two motherlands(Turkey and Greece), but instead remind and taste in many other ways of home.
My doctoral research focuses on one such example, a set of versions of the Cypriot traditional tune known as Tillirka—a common musical composition shared within the triangle of Cyprus, Turkey and Greece, considered one of Mediterranean’s most pleasurable and deeply rooted musical objects. In doing so, I re-negotiate the concept of a new space, adding more complexities to this mosaic, and call it the Mediterranean imaginary of Cyprus in diaspora.
In this fellowship, I propose to detail this mosaic further and complete a book monograph, by conducting fieldwork in Cyprus to recover further di-ethnically shared musics and performances and examine their Mediterranean appeal. I will solidify and enrich the Mediterranean imaginary, while re-thinking and extending the conscious and unconscious unifying ritual abilities of music for spiritual and emotional reconciliation.