The 1923 Lausanne Treaty, which ended the 1919-1922 Greco-Turkish War, decreed the compulsory exchange of religious minority populations in Greece and Turkey. As a result, almost a million and a half Orthodox Christians residing in Turkey and half a million Muslims residing in Greece were uprooted from the lands on which they lived for generations and were forcefully sent to the other country. The agreement not only caused a radical homogenization of the distribution of populations of the Near East, but also marked a milestone in the nationalization and modernization processes of the two countries, thus reshaping the nationalist discourses, as well as the cultural and national identities of Greeks and Turks.
The theme of the project is based on collected personal stories and collective memories of migrated Greek – Turkish communities and their next generations who live in Istanbul. Stories from the Exchange of 1923 will be narrated by participants as sections of a composition – titled “Mübadele – Ανταλλαγή (The Exchange)” which was composed by Turkish composer Recep Gül (1982). The composition consists of sections that are open for improvisatory narrations as well as pre-composed arias. This project intends not only to remember the Greco-Turkish Forced Religious Exchange of 1923, a human tragedy from the past by narrated stories, but also to reconsider and address some questions of contemporary importance, such as forced migration, homogenization, othering, displacement, contingency of identity and cultural mobility.