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Title:The soul of the White Muslim: Race, empire and Africa in Turkey
Author(s):Guner, Ezgi
Director of Research:Greenberg, Jessica R.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Greenberg, Jessica R.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Harrison, Faye V.; Orta, Andrew; Bayat, Asef; Smalls, Krystal A.; Özyürek, Esra
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):race, Islam, global capitalism, Turkey, sub-Saharan Africa
Abstract:This dissertation explores the articulation of race and religion with global capitalism in the context of Turkey’s contemporary relations with Africa south of the Sahara under the neoliberal authoritarian regime of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). In contrast to the political science and international relations literatures on South-South relations, this anthropological research explores how the transnational political, economic and religious entanglements in the Global South are racially structured. More specifically, it asks how and why the recent orientation towards Africa south of the Sahara has intertwined with a racial orientation towards whiteness, an affective orientation towards the global umma (community of believers), and a temporal orientation towards the Ottoman imperial past. While whiteness has historically been associated with Western modernity and state secularism in Turkey, the Islamist critics of these twin ideological projects self-identified with blackness as a metaphor of victimization under the secularist regime. This dissertation argues that Africa provides a racial terrain for the Black Turk to reinvent himself as White Muslim in alignment with the consolidation of the Islamists’ hegemony over the last decades. I therefore explore Turkey’s recent transnational entanglements in Africa as a spatial fix, not only for the crises of capitalism, but equally for the contradictions of racial formations on a national scale. My analysis of the construction of Muslim whiteness contributes to global critical race theory by showing how local racial formations articulate with global white supremacy in inventive ways. Furthermore, this analysis makes a critical contribution to the scholarship on the racialization of Muslims by thinking beyond the post 9/11 context and taking into consideration racial formations within the Muslim world.
Issue Date:2020-12-07
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Ezgi Guner
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12

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