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Alev Çinar – The Predicament of Islamic Decoloniality in Turkey: Sufi Political Thought and the “Great East” Project of Necip Fazıl Kısakürek

May 2, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm  |  Humanities 1, Room 420


After winning its battle against the occupying colonial powers during The War of Independence in 1919-1922, Turkey set on a secular, Westernizationist path toward modernization under Mustafa Kemal’s leadership. Turkey spent what can be referred to as its postcolonial period under its founding ideology, Kemalism, which launched a West-oriented secular modernization project that framed the Ottoman system and Islam as inferior, backward, and uncivilized. First forms of what I refer to as “Islamic decolonial thought,” or Islamic decoloniality, emerged against this backdrop in the 1950s, which later developed into a collection of diverse intellectual movements constituting the current Islamic intellectual field (IIF) in Turkey. This study examines the Sufi-based political thought of Turkish Muslim poet and writer Necip Fazıl Kısakürek (1904-1983) as one of the pioneers of Islamic decolonial thought in Turkey. Necip Fazıl, who is current President Erdogan’s main ideological inspiration, was the founder and lead writer of the The Great East (Büyük Doğu) journal published in 1943-1978, which is considered to be Turkey’s first Islam-based political journal that was instrumental in inspiring numerous political and intellectual movements currently active in the IIF.

Alev Çınar is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Bilkent University, Turkey. She received her M.A. in Sociology from Bogazici University; Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania, and completed two postdoctoral fellowships at the International Center for Advanced Studies, New York University, and the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

She is the author of Modernity, Islam and Secularism in Turkey: Bodies Places and Time; co-editor of Urban Imaginaries: Locating the Modern City, and of Visualizing Secularism and ReligionEgypt, Lebanon, Turkey, India. She also has articles that have appeared in journals such as the Comparative Studies in Society and History, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Theory, Culture and Society, and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. She is currently serving on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

History of Consciousness Spring 23 Speaker Series.

In person and via zoom. Please see the History of Consciousness Speaker Series website for further details.

Talk co-sponsored by CMENA.


May 2, 2023
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Humanities 1, Room 420
Humanites 1 University of California, Santa Cruz Cowell College
Santa Cruz, CA 95064 United States
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