Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Horizons and histories of liberal piety: Civil Islam and secularism in contemporary Turkey
by Walton, Jeremy F., Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2009, 228; 3387051
Abstract (Summary)

Ethnographically and conceptually, this dissertation is concerned with the discourses and practices through which a panoply of civil Muslim actors and institutions articulates a coherent mode of liberal piety in relation to both the imperatives of Turkish secularism and other definitions of Islam that maintain currency in contemporary Turkey. In the most schematic sense, I am interested in how liberal publicness, secular laicism, and the practices of piety act upon one other in mutually creative, as well as constraining, ways. Through a fine-grained, 'thick' description and analysis of civil society institutions associated with Turkey's Nur Community ( Nur Cemaatõ), Gülen Community (Gülen Cemaatõ ) and Alevi Community (Alevi Cemaatõ, Aleviler), I examine how questions of history and tradition, space and place, and religious and political pluralism articulate liberalism and piety as both means to and ends of each other. A second central concern of my argument is to delineate the different implications and effects that liberal secularism and laicist, Jacobin secularism have upon practices and definitions of piety themselves—as I demonstrate, public piety in Turkey is defined against the horizons of both liberal and illiberal/laicist secularism. This double emphasis on the creative relationship between liberality and piety and the differential effects of distinct secular programs upon religion places my dissertation at a productive angle to recent anthropological work on secularism, which has tended to focus on the constraining and hegemonic character of liberalism, especially in postcolonial contexts.

Keywords: (Ethnography of) Secularism, Civil Society, Publicness, Piety, Pluralism/Multiculturalism, Historicity, Spatiality; Islam, Turkey.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mazzarella, William
Commitee: Agrama, Hussein, Comaroff, John, Kelly, John, Stokes, Martin, Wedeen, Lisa
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Cultural anthropology, Islamic Studies
Keywords: Civil society, Islam, Pluralism, Public sphere, Secularism, Turkey
Publication Number: 3387051
ISBN: 978-1-109-52911-1
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