Yale Turkey Webinar Series: Imaginative Encounters: Turkish Neo-Ottomanist Dreams in the Balkans and the Muslim Minorities

April 12, 2021 - 12:00pm
Speaker/Performer: 
Serac Sehlikoglu, Senior Research Associate, University College London
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Turkey’s international politics and its political, financial, and cultural investments in the South Eastern Europe, known as the Balkans, are often referred to as “Soft Power” in the European media. It is argued that Erdoğan-led Turkey’s Islamist imperial dreams that started gaining political currency amongst Sunni Muslims in the former Ottoman lands during the last decade. Indeed, series of neo-Ottomanist cultural projects of the Turkish state are observed across post-Ottoman geographies. Turkey presents the boldest and most focused case in imperial revivalist formations of Islamisms. However, a large proportion of such analytical narratives demonstrate a limited understanding of the minority Muslims in Eastern Europe. By focusing specifically on the fieldwork in North Macedonia with Albanian, Torbeshi, and Turkish Muslims, this paper traces the imaginative encounters, where the political dreams, longings, aspirations, and desires of local native Muslims and Turkish state have met and conversed with each other. How do various Muslim groups perceive the presence of Turkish state in North Macedonia? This is part of a broader research that studies Turkey’s various enterprise in post-Ottoman geographies that ethnographically studies how notions of past are recalibrated for futuristic projects.
Sertac Sehlikoglu is a social anthropologist specialised on issues related to subjectivity, intimacy, and desire. Her work often focuses on intangible aspects of human subjectivity that enables humans to change and transform social life. She analyses human agency and investigate its creative and imaginative capacities. Currently, she is a Senior Research Associate at the UCL’s Institute for Global Prosperity and a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge. Previously, she held an Abdullah Mubarak al-Sabah Fellowship at Pembroke College (2016-2020) and Gibbs Travelling Fellowship at Newnham College (2019), Cambridge. Sehlikoglu’s research summary can be found here https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/igp/dr-sertac-sehlikoglu. Her publication profile can be found here https://ucl.academia.edu/SertacSehlikoglu.

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