Under the Banner of Islam: Turks, Kurds, and the Limits of Religious Unity, with Dr Gülay Türkmen and Dr Mehmet Kurt


CEFTUS Online Talk: Under the Banner of Islam: Turks, Kurds, and the Limits of Religious Unity, with Dr Gülay Türkmen and Dr Mehmet Kurt


This online meeting will discuss Dr Gülay Türkmen’s recently published book, Under the Banner of Islam: Turks, Kurds, and the Limits of Religious Unity (Oxford University Press, 2021). Sunni Islam has played an ambivalent role in Turkey’s Kurdish conflict—both as a conflict resolution tool and as a tool of resistance. Türkmen’s study uses Turkey as a case study to understand how religious, ethnic, and national identities converge in ethnic conflicts between co-religionists.

She asks a question that informs the way we understand religiously homogeneous ethnic conflicts today: Is it possible for religion to act as a resolution tool in these often-violent conflicts?

In search for answers to this question, Türkmen journeys into the inner circles of religious elites from different backgrounds: non-state-appointed local Kurdish meles, state-appointed Kurdish and Turkish imams, heads of religious NGOs, and members of religious orders. Blending interview data with a detailed historical analysis that goes back as far as the nineteenth century, she argues that the strength of Turkish and Kurdish nationalisms, the symbiotic relationship between Turkey’s religious and political fields, the religious elites’ varying conceptualizations of religious and ethnic identities, and the recent political developments in the region (particularly in Syria) all contribute to the complex role religion plays in the Kurdish conflict in Turkey.

When: Monday, 28 June 2021

18:00 BST

The event is open to all and to join you must register via the link below


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

*The event is 1.5 hours long. The last 30 minutes will be a Q&A session.

Speakers biographies:
Dr Gülay Türkmen is a political sociologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Graz’s Center for Southeast European Studies. Her work examines how macro-scale historical, cultural and political developments inform questions of belonging and identity-formation in multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies. She is the author of Under the Banner of Islam? Turks, Kurds and the Limits of Religious Unity (Oxford University Press, 2021). She has published in several academic outlets including the Annual Review of Sociology, Qualitative Sociology, Sociological Quarterly, Nations and Nationalism, and New Diversities.
Dr Mehmet Kurt is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE). His research lies at the intersection of political sociology and anthropology of religion with a specific focus on political Islam and civil society in Turkey and among the Muslim diasporic communities in Europe and the USA. He currently works on transnational Islamic movements and mobilisations, and examines the ways in which Turkish Muslim communities experience and imagine Islam, ethnicity, identity and citizenship in Europe and the USA.
His book, Kurdish Hizbullah in Turkey: Islamism, Violence and the State (Pluto Press, 2017) offers a textured and nuanced analysis of the political theology, intercommunal conflict, and the everyday manifestation of ethnic and religious identities among the Hizbullah members in Turkey. He is the author of numerous articles, book chapters and op-eds published in English, Turkish and Kurdish. In addition to his academic scholarship, Mehmet directed an ethnographic documentary film, the Seven Doors (2019), which received The Jean Rouch Award 2020 from the American Anthropological Association Society for Visual Anthropology’s Film and Media Festival and Merit Award in Youth Issues 2020 from Docs Without Borders Film Festival.

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