Jeremy F. Walton will join the Centre for Advanced Studies of South Eastern Europe at the University of Rijeka as a research fellow in Autumn 2015. From 2013 to 2015, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the CETREN Transregional Research Network at Georg August University of Göttingen, based in the pilot program, “The Politics of Secularism and the Emergence of New Religiosities.” During the 2012-2013 academic year, he was a Jamal Daniel Levant Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS). Prior to this, he was an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in New York University’s Religious Studies Program (2009-2012). He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago (2009), and his book manuscript, Siting Islam: Sovereignty, Governmentality, and the Civil Society Effect in Turkey, is currently under review with Oxford University Press.
Lecture Held on October 30, 2015.
Times and Spaces of Islam across Turkey, the Balkans, and Southeast Europe
In this presentation, I forge a panoramic perspective on Islam across the variegated geography of Turkey and southeast Europe. Rather than a direct focus on questions of Muslim politics or theology, I am concerned with the distinctive histories, temporalities, places and spatial practices that situate and saturate Islam across this geography. Five specific sites together constitute my kaleidoscopic purview. In Ankara, I discuss a contentious project to create an integrated space of worship for Alevi and Sunni Muslims—a “mosque-cem house”—that has sparked anxieties of spatial and political assimilation on the part of many Alevi critics. In Istanbul, I visit the theme park Miniatürk in order to plumb the “miniaturized” image of Ottoman Islamic history that the park curates. My itinerary then takes me to Thessaloniki, where the abandoned, converted mosque of the dönme community—Muslim followers of the failed Jewish messiah Sabbatai Zevi—mutely enunciates the city’s repudiated Ottoman, Muslim, and Jewish pasts. From there, I proceed to Rijeka in order to trace the ambivalence of a new, monumental mosque dedicated to the city’s Bosniak Muslim community—as I argue, the mosque’s public visibility belies the ultimate marginality of Islam within the city and nation as a whole. Finally, I make a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Bektashi saint Gül Baba in Budapest, where the predominantly Turkish commentary in a visitors’ log registers both nostalgia for faded Ottoman politico-religious glory and aspirations to a European future for Turkish Islam that integrates the lessons of the Ottoman past. Rather than a single, straightforward argument, my presentation unfolds across these multiple spaces and national contexts with the ambition to complicate both monolithic images of Islam and simplistic renderings of “public religion” generally.