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Workshop: Religion and its History in Turkey: New Approaches, Alternative Perspectives

Workshop, Leipzig University, 27-28 January 2023

Coveners: Gökçen Beyinli (Hamburg University), Markus Dressler (Leipzig University)

Download Workshop Programme 

The dichotomy between a “secular state” and a “religious society” has been for a long time the dominating discourse on the modernity experience of the Republic of Turkey. Although the “secularism” of the Turkish state and its homogenising policies have been interrogated,
less attention has been paid to its “counterpart,” “religious society.” Academic research on religion in modern Turkey has been confined largely to Islam, thereby privileging binary oppositions such as orthodox-heterodox, official-popular, or high-low Islam. Such dichotomies do not pay sufficient attention to alternative religiosities or dynamics of convergence between religions. This two-day workshop aims to revisit Turkish modernity experience on the centenary of the republic by considering the diverse forms of religiosity and the complexity of religious life in Turkey. With contributions of critical and theoretical religious studies research, we would like to question the binary conceptualisations of religion as well as the strict dichotomy between religion and the secular. We also want to elaborate on everyday material and spatial aspects of religion to challenge normative assumptions about religiosity and “true religion” as defined by religious institutions.

By bringing scholars from diverse fields together, we want to address the following questions and corresponding ideas to promote further research:
• How can we move beyond dominating binary conceptualisations of religion such as orthodox-heterodox, official-popular, high-low?

• Which new methodologies and sources can expand our scope of analysis?

• What are the contested religious experiences of ordinary people that have until now stayed invisible in scholarship?

• Which practices, stories, or people that challenge the religious-secular binary have been rendered invisible? Which normative definitions of religion and religiosity are similarly concealed?

• How can we rethink about religion and religiosity through a spatial and geographical perspective?

• How does gender matter in binary conceptualisations of religion(s) and the secular, and how can we include women as religious subjects beyond Islamic activism?

The Workshop will take place as a hybrid event. If you wish to attend the workshop, please send a short inquiry to

Please find the Abstracts here.