The Council on Middle East Studies Yale Turkey Webinar Series presents
Hikmet Kocamaner, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina-Wilmington:
“Turkey’s (Trans)national Religio-Political Infrastructures: the Directorate of Religious Affairs and the Bureaucratization of Islamic Authority.”
The incumbent Turkish government has appropriated the country’s longstanding religious infrastructures to govern the lives of pious Sunni-Muslim Turks, to garner their allegiance to the government, and to quell religiously-inspired political groups deemed to pose a security threat – both domestically and among the Turkish diaspora in Europe. This talk will focus on the technical and bureaucratic infrastructures of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet in Turkish), a state institution that has monitored, regulated, and monopolized Sunni Islamic doctrine and practice since the foundation of the Turkish Republic. As a result of the Turkish state’s appointment of native-born Turkish imams to diaspora mosques and “religious affairs attachés” in Turkish embassies throughout Europe, the reach of Diyanet’s infrastructures has extended transnationally. These religious infrastructures were deployed to garner the allegiance of Turkish citizens and diasporic Turks to the Erdogan regime during the 2016 military coup attempt, purportedly orchestrated by the Gulenists, an influential Islamic community believed to have infiltrated into the Turkish bureaucracy. However, the ever-growing religio-political reach of the Turkish government into the lives of the Turkish diaspora through Diyanet’s infrastructures has also led to consternations throughout European polities, culminating in clampdown against Diyanet’s activities and infrastructures.
Hikmet Kocamaner is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Earlier he held postdoctoral research and teaching positions at Brandeis University, Boston University, and Harvard University. Kocamaner’s research has explored the ways in which religion gets involved in the regulation of gender, sexuality, and the family in ostensibly secular states. Provisionally titled Constructing the Moral Majority: Islam, Secularism, and the Politics of the Family in the New Turkey, his book manuscript explores how the family has emerged as a key site in which the role of Islam in governance has been debated and reconfigured under the Muslim-conservative AKP government. His articles, published in American Ethnologist, Anthropological Quarterly, and Middle East Report, examine how faith-based projects aimed at strengthening the Turkish family articulate with the rationalities of neoliberal subjectivity and secular, biopolitical governance. Kocamaner’s second research project explores the political significance of religious infrastructures in Turkey and Europe.