Sabancı Üniversitesi


POLS Seminar - Neslihan Cevik

POLS Seminar Series
January 6, 2011
FASS 2034

Neslihan CevikPostdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia Title:Religious Revival in Modern Turkey: Muslimism, The New Muslim Entrepreneurs, and Sites of Hybridity,”
Abstract: Contemporary Turkey has been witnessing yet another wave of Islamic resurgence. This time however, instead of mosques or religious orders, Islam has established itself in unconventional institutions. These include on the one hand 5-star hotels that observe Islamic teachings on alcohol and gender-politics, Islamic fashion-shows, and character-education schools, and on the other HR associations that articulate UN conventions with the Medina Certificate, business associations that moralize principles of free-market with Islamic teachings, and pro-Islamic women’s associations that promote pro-female readings of hadith.
In my current book project, I argue that these new institutions, from Islamic hotels to civil associations, embody a new type of Islamic orthodoxy, which I term as Muslimism. Neither fundamentalist rejection nor liberal submission, Muslimism embraces aspects of modern life while submitting that life to a sacred, moral order resulting in a hybrid identity frame. Within that frame, the aim is not that of capturing the state but to contrive a lifestyle in which the individual-believer can be incorporated into modernity while entertaining and preserving an Islam-proper living. This does not mean Muslimism is a mere cultural expression. Muslimists engage the political space by exerting civic pressure, promoting new elites – such as the Muslimist electoral support to the Justice and Development Party– and new policies—in particular to push state polices and the laic model of secularism towards more neutral and democratic lines. 
Based on an historical reading, the project identified the mechanisms (agents, conditions, and social spaces) that generated Muslimism, and the empirical analysis (mainly based on interviews with leaders of pro-Islamic civil and political organizations that are identifiable as Muslimists) mapped the Muslimist discourse to identify its core characteristics. These characteristics include for example cherishing of conciliatory politics, cultural tolerance, political liberalization, individuation, voluntary associations, and globalist objectives (both in terms of IR and culture) and repudiation of cultural conservatism, authoritarianism, literalism, polarization, and traditionalism.