Skip to main content

E. Ceyda Çekmeci

Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, I completed my bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Istanbul’s beautiful Boğaziçi University in 2016 with high honors degree. As my work as a choral conductor of Boğaziçi’s Classical Music Choir opened new horizons for me, I went on to study conducting and musicology upon my graduation and received an M.A. degree in Music from Istanbul Technical University, Center for Advanced Studies in Music in 2019. During my time at both institutions and beyond, I worked and volunteered in numerous civil society organizations and used music education to help improve the conditions of disadvantaged groups such as underserved communities and refugee children. The most significant one among them is presumably my longtime work as a choir conductor at the Music for Peace Foundation, which at the same time formed the basis of my master’s thesis entitled “Music as Mediating the Self and the Social: An Ethnographic Field Study at the Music for Peace Foundation, El Sistema Turkey”.

My dual academic training in music and sociology, my personal background, and my experiences in civil society organizations all merged to create an aspiration towards exploring music’s function as a powerful tool in struggling for justice and equality. How does music function as a social and political medium in society? What makes “music” in the most conventional sense possible a tool for social action? How do people take up music as power in combatting various forms of injustice and inequality? I was fascinated by such overarching questions of music sociology which I thoroughly dealt with during my master’s research. Carrying on to my PhD studies at UC Berkeley, alongside looking at how music is used to articulate political ideas by the people, I am also keen on exploring how it is used to consolidate the ideology by the states -via cultural policies, censorship, control and regulation of musical practices, etc.- and by doing so, I aim to take a comprehensive look at the transformation of the music scene in Turkey in the 21st century.