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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Religion, Politics and Nationalism in Contemporary Turkey

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Erdogan palace

Jenny White
Boston University

Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Time: 12:00-1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

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Abstract: Turkey is at a crossroads. Under the Islam-rooted AK Party that has been in power for more than a decade, Turkey has been transformed in both positive and negative ways, modernizing, globalizing, and fostering entirely new ways of being Turkish and being Muslim. Since 2011, however, the country has begun to slide into a one-man autocracy beset with corruption allegations and all-out war between the Sunni AKP and its former Sunni ally, the Hizmet movement. The government has begun to dismantle democratic institutions and enormous tensions are building. 


Jenny White is a professor of anthropology and director of undergraduate studies at Boston University. Her research focuses on Turkish politics, with interests including political Islam, civil society, and ethnic identity. Her most recent book, Muslim Nationalists and The New Turks, examines how contemporary Turkish nationalism and Islam intersect to produce a new conception of Turkish national identity. She is also the author of Islamic Mobilization in Turkey: A Study in Vernacular Politics and Money Makes Us Relatives: Women’s Labor in Urban Turkey, as well as three critically acclaimed historical novels set in nineteenth-century Istanbul. White is a former president of the Turkish Studies Association and has received numerous grants and fellowships, including from the Social Science Research Council, the MacArthur Foundation and the National Science Foundation. She earned a B.A. from the City University of New York, an M.A. from Hacettepe University (Ankara, Turkey) and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.

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In the News

Hundreds of Turkish soldiers recently crossed the border into Syria to protect the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of Ottoman Empire founder Osman I, from attack by the Islamic State. Turkey’s veneration of its Ottoman heritage has contributed to a growing strain of nationalism in Turkish politics, which Jenny White will discuss at the Boisi Center on Wednesday, March 25.