I was born in early 1960 in Kiremithane village on the outskirts of Taurus Mountains in the plains of Chukurova, in southern Anatolia, Turkey. During my childhood I walked to distant villages with my father and participated in the performances of oral tradition. During my childhood, the storytellers were almost sacred personages in the villages. They came from a deeply rooted ancient tradition of professional bards of Chukurova that is, the ancient Cilicia, where Homer once lived and told stories. For my graduate studies in 1990s at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I went to Sub-Saharan East Africa and worked with African storytellers as a part of my doctoral research and learned the art of storytelling from the African storytellers, poets, and historians with whom I worked. In 2004, I went to Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan and worked with Azeri storytellers. At Western Michigan University, the voices of African, Azeri, Kurdish, and Turkish storytellers constitute the core of my teaching and research. I teach the following courses: African storytellers; Folklore and Mythology; Oral Tradition and the Novel; Hero and Trickster; Creative Muslim Writers; Literary Interpretation; Asian Literature; Post Colonial Literature; Travel Writing; and Turkish Literature in Translation. I edited a book entitled, Lake Rudolf as Colonial Icon in East Africa (2006), Duke University Press. Currently I am working on a book manuscript entitled African Storytellers: The Jie and Turkana Oral Tradition of Origin. My essays have appeared in Ethnohistory, History in Africa, African Studies Review, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Journal of Modern African Studies. I conducted research on oral tradition in Uganda, Kenya, and Azerbaijan. I am a recipient of National Endowment for Humanities, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Social Science Research Council
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“Situational Deployment of Stories”, Power of Doubt (2011)
Sorghum as a Gift of Self: The Jie Oral Tradition as Memory, History in Africa (2009)
The Importance of Being Honest: Verifying Citations, Rereading Historical Sources, and Establishing Authority in the Great Karamoja Debate, History in Africa (2007)
This is a special volume which I edited for Ethnohistory journal. This volume appeared in...