This chapter introduces the reader to the ethnographic setting in Istanbul and to the core themes of the book. It addresses the ambiguous public life of the ney under the Turkish Republic, presenting it as a nexus point of interactions between individuals, national, and extra-national actors. It explores the ney’s contemporary material, artistic, symbolic, and pedagogical practices and meanings. In laying out the process of apprentice-style methodology undertaken to research the ney, the chapter also reflects upon the dual roles and demands of being both apprentice and researcher, as well as the consequences each entails for ethnographic writing.
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