New Books Network

The social history of Turkey across the twentieth century has produced a tension between state governance and religion. This history informs and shapes modern...

The social history of Turkey across the twentieth century has produced a tension between state governance and religion. This history informs and shapes modern subjects as they try to live out an authentic vision of the present. In Muslim Civil Society and the Politics of Religious Freedom in Turkey (Oxford University Press, 2017), Jeremy F. Walton, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, explores how members of three contemporary Muslim groups, the Nur community, the Gülen movement, and Alevis, articulate religiosity within the Turkish public sphere. His rich ethnographic account takes the reader through Istanbul and Ankara to see how Islam is negotiated through religious classes, public conferences, charitable services, museum spaces, and the recollection of history. In our conversation we discuss twentieth century Turkish history, Muslim non-governmental organizations, religious gatherings, museum exhibits, Rumi, the Turkish state’s relationship to Islam and secularism, interreligious tolerance and pluralism, nostalgia for Ottoman heritage,  the ideal of “religious freedom,” and the recent shift in political and religious practices.


Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. He is the author of Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Cinematic Lives of Muslims, and is the editor of the forthcoming volumes Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (ILEX Foundation) and New Approaches to Islam in Film (Routledge). You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at kpeterse@odu.edu.