Gizem Zencirci, "The Muslim Social: Neoliberalism, Charity, and Poverty in Turkey" (Syracuse UP, 2024)


Since coming to power in 2002, Turkey’s governing party, the AKP, has made poverty relief a central part of their political program. In addition to neoliberal reforms, AKP’s program has involved an emphasis on Islamic charity that is unprecedented in the history of the Turkish Republic. To understand the causes and consequences of this phenomenon, Zencirci introduces the concept of the Muslim Social, defined as a welfare regime that reimagined and reconfigured Islamic charitable practices to address the complex needs of a modern market society.

In The Muslim Social: Neoliberalism, Charity, and Poverty in Turkey (Syracuse UP, 2024), Zencirci explores the blending of religious values and neoliberal elements in dynamic, flexible, and unexpected ways. Although these governmental assemblages of Islamic neoliberalism produced new forms of generosity, distinctive notions of poverty, and novel ways of relating to others in society, Zencirci reveals how this welfare regime privileged managerial efficiency and emotional well-being at the expense of other objectives such as equality, development, or justice. The book provides a lens onto the everyday life of Islamic neoliberalism, while also mapping the kind of political concerns that animate poverty governance in our capitalist present.

Gizem Zencirci is an associate professor of political science at Providence College. Her work has been published in journals such as the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and the Journal of Cultural Economy.

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