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Expanding Religion and Islamic Morality in Turkey

The Role of the Diyanet’s Women Preachers

Chiara Maritato

Despite scholars’ tremendous interest in the dynamics of Turkish laicism, little to no attention has been paid to the actors and the practices through which Islamic morality is propagated among society every day. This article investigates the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet)’s policy that has been increasing the number of women working as preachers since 2003. To what extent and how does the employment of the Diyanet’s women preachers affect the way in which religion and Islamic public morality grow and are spread in Turkey today? What specifically is women’s contribution in this respect? Drawing on an ethnographic observation of the Diyanet’s women preachers’ activities in Istanbul mosques, the article outlines how they contribute to reshaping Turkish laicism while diffusing Islamic morality in the public space.

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Aestheticised Rituals and (Non-)Engagement with Norms in Contemporary Turkey

A Contribution to Discussions on Piety and Ethics

Erol Saglam

Drawing on an ethnographic research in some rural communities of Trabzon, Turkey, this article provides insights about the diversity of Islamic pieties and their relations to religious norms. An exploration of everyday Islamic practices in the area demonstrates how piety can take peculiar forms within which norms are both publicly and socially upheld and yet also hollowed out. Among Muslim men of ‘the Valley’ in Trabzon, piety emerges as an aggregate of reiterative practices exterior to the pious self. Highlighting the aestheticised and ritualised state of these engagements with Islam in the Turkish context allows discussion of the relationships among practices of piety, pious subjectivities, and ethics.

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Mona Tajali

Male leaders have often used women's bodies and dress as a means to regulate their access to formal politics, including to national parliaments. Through an analysis of women's activism surrounding the expansion of headscarved women's access to the parliament during the 2011 parliamentary elections in Turkey, I argue that pious women's public protests against discriminatory actions of male leaders towards headscarved women's candidacy challenged the hegemonic symbolism surrounding the headscarf as articulated by both secularist and conservative religious forces. The consequent discourse shift offered a new perspective on women's sexuality in the public arena and brought secular and pious women's rights groups, who rarely saw eye to eye with one another, closer as they realised that imposed dress codes are vehicles for their exclusion from formal politics.

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Aygen Erdentug

The Santa Claus figure, the Christmas tree and decorations that are associated with this Christian holiday have been adopted by liberal consumers in Turkey, a Muslim country. These Turks envisage Santa Claus, in his trademark red suit, as a gift bearer on the occasion of New Year's Eve. This societal development has consolidated the cultural distance not only between the upper and lower classes but also between the established middle class and the flourishing, new conservative middle class. In protest, the religiously conservative have produced sombre 'alternative gatherings' to remind Turks of their Muslim heritage.

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Stephen F. Szabo

poll found that refugees were listed as the most important challenge currently facing German foreign policy, with 26 percent listing it compared to 19 percent choosing relations with the U.S./ Trump and 17 percent relations with Turkey/Erdogan. A large

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Between 'Greatness' and 'Ignorance'

The Transition to Nuclear Power in Turkey

Sezin Topçu

Focusing on Turkey’s nuclearisation process, which has accelerated over the past decade, this article examines the historical and contemporary relationships that the country’s political decision-makers maintain with risk, the environment and health and ecological disasters. While the transition to nuclear power in the post-Fukushima period is not a dynamic specific to Turkey, it nevertheless operates, in the Turkish case, in a particular geographic, energy and political context. On the one hand, Turkey is a highly seismic country that heavily depends on its neighbours for energy and, on the other, is experiencing a creeping political authoritarianism. This article focuses on the dynamics and specificities of this post-disaster nuclear transition, which will be analysed here as ‘serene nuclearism’, positioned as the polar opposite of ‘reflexive modernisation’, as theorised by Ulrich Beck.

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Bodily Transgression

Conflicting Spaces and Gendered Boundaries of Modernity and Islam in Contemporary Turkey

Mahiye Seçil Dağtaş

As Islamic discourses and practices gain increasing public visibility in Turkey and redefine the gendered boundaries of the state, officers' clubs have become the ideal national 'public sphere' of the military and therefore the site in which female citizens' bodies are displayed as the secular markers of Turkey's modernity. Focusing on an anecdote from ethnographic research on wedding ceremonies held in military officers' clubs in Istanbul, this article explores how the competing discourses on modernity and secularism are manifested and contested concretely in specific gendered, corporeal, emotional and spatial practices in contemporary Turkey.

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Cultivating and Contesting Order

'European Turks' and Negotiations of Neighbourliness at 'Home'

Susan Rottmann

This article examines how Turks returning from Germany to Turkey self-fashion as 'orderly neighbours'. By maintaining aesthetically pleasing homes and gardens, keeping public spaces clean, and obeying rules and laws in public, return migrants believe they act as modern 'European-Turks' and exemplify good neighbourliness. Many neighbours, however, feel these actions are unnecessary or even disruptive to Turkish communities. In conversation with the burgeoning anthropology of ethics, this research explores how local, national and transnational assemblages foster reflections and debates on neighbourly ethics. Further, this study highlights anxieties about individualism, reciprocity, 'modernity' and 'European-ness' in today's Turkey.

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Lawyers against the Law

The Challenge of Turkish Lawyering Associations

Joakim Parslow

Despite increasing subordination of the judiciary to executive authorities, Turkish cause lawyering associations are more assertive than ever in their defiance of forced closures and legal persecution. Why would activist lawyers ‘play the game’ of law when the legal system is being undermined? Focusing on the historical genesis of Turkey’s oldest activist lawyering association, the Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği (ÇHD), I argue that Turkish legal activism results from not just clashing political causes but also the strategies attorneys are forced to adopt to effect change within an authoritarian-corporatist structure designed to constrict their activities. The ÇHD and similar groups are not merely extensions of the formal juridical order; they also constitute a grassroots engagement with the law that refuses to conform to the categories, narratives, procedures and ends of the state’s legal institutions.

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The Accession Pedagogy

Power and Politics in Turkey's Bid for EU Membership

Bilge Firat

From 1989, new plans to enlarge the EU caused growing public disenchantment with the future of European integration as a viable model of cooperation among states and peoples in Europe. To manage disenchantment, EU actors designed various policy tools and techniques in their approaches to European peripheries such as Turkey. Among these, they intensified and perfected processes of pedagogy where EU actors assume that they have unique knowledge of what it means to be 'European' and that they must teach accession candidates how to become true Europeans. Based on accounts of EU politicians and officials, past experiences of government officials from former EU candidate states and Turkish officials' encounters with the EU's accession pedagogy, this article explores the EU's enlargement policy as a pedagogical engagement and the responses it elicits among Turkish governmental representatives, in order to test the reconfigurations of power between Europe and the countries on its margins.