Islam, public space, and democracy in Turkey

  • Secor, Anna (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


The political role of religion has emerged as one of the most urgent questions of our time. Despite the increasing presence of religious voices in politics and public life worldwide, there remains a critical gap in knowledge regarding how exactly these reconfigurations of the role of religion in public life happen, who drives them, and what implications they may have for diverse democracies. Turkey is a prime context within which to study the new role of religion in public life that marks our current era. A secular, democratic state, Turkey has been ruled since 2002 by a democratically elected political party with roots in Islamist politics. Many observers have suggested that Turkey could be a model for the new Middle East. But could it? Or is the Turkish model destined to flounder on the problem of how religious and non-religious ways of life can accommodate one another in a pluralistic public arena? Our goal is to answer this question through an examination of devout Sunni Muslims' attitudes and practices with regard to Islam and public space in Turkey. Public space is critical for our study because the question of Islam and pluralism in Turkey is frequently played out through contests over urban space. Yet, not all Turkish cities have similarly constituted public spaces, so our study will compare findings from two contrasting Turkish cities: Istanbul, where secular and devout sectors compete to define the city, and Konya, an Anatolian city dominated by devout Sunni Muslim economic and political elite.
Effective start/end date6/1/146/30/15


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