The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies is pleased to present
Civil Mediations of Piety and Community:
Secularism, Liberalism, and New Islamic Humanism in Contemporary Turkey
The Jamal Daniel Post-Doctoral Fellow for the Study of the Levant
Jeremy F. Walton
In recent years, Turkey has witnessed the emergence of a diverse swath of Muslim communities, institutions, and practices. While this striking development resembles and participates in the logics of Islamic reform in other parts of the globalizing world, it equally bears a distinctive relationship to the particular genealogies and politics of secularism and Islam in Turkey. This talk, a version of the introductory chapter of Jeremy's manuscript in progress, introduces the major conceptual themes and arguments that pivot on the efflorescence of Islamic civil society in Turkey. Drawing on ethnographic research and interviews with some twenty-five organizations, he argues that the intersections and mediations of Islam and liberalism in contemporary Turkish civil society have yielded a distinct form of Islamic humanism that spans otherwise intractable political and theological divides. Ethnographically, the paper focuses on three distinct groups within civil society: the Nur Community (Nur Cemaatı), which focuses on the tafsir of 20th Century theologian Bediuzzaman Said Nursi; the Hizmet (Service) Movement (Hizmet Hareketi), a global pious movement based on the writings of contemporary theologian Fethullah Gülen; and Turkish Alevis, who unite the characteristic beliefs of Shi’a Islam with central Asian ritual practices and traditions.
Jeremy F. Walton is the Jamal Daniel Post-Doctoral Fellow for the Study of the Levant at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS). Prior to coming to Georgetown, he was an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in New York University’s Religious Studies Program (2009-2012). He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago (2009), and is currently in the process of writing and revising his book manuscript, Pieties of Pluralism: Formations of Islam, Liberalism and Secularism in Turkey. Dr. Walton co-edited, with John Kelly, Beatrice Jauregui, and Sean T. Mitchell, the collection Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency, and has book chapters in Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency, Orienting Istanbul: Cultural Capital of Europe? and the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies. His teaching and research broadly interrogate the complex relationships among Islamic practice, the politics of contemporary secularism, and global regimes of publicity. Professor Walton conducted fieldwork for his dissertation in Istanbul and Ankara from 2005 to 2007, and continues to spend as much time as possible in Turkey in pursuit multiple research projects.
Light refreshments will be served.
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