[P4726] Provincializing Political Theory: Islamic Intellectuals and the Production of Knowledge in Turkey

Created by Alev Cinar
Monday, 11/20/17 1:00pm


A recent study uncovered that there are close to 100 journals published since the 1980s in Turkey circulating among Islamic circles where issues and concepts that have political significance are discussed. Even though some of these can easily qualify as scholarly journals in the field of political theory, this intellectual field has not been acknowledged so far as a field of political theorizing. This might be partly because there looms a heavy bias in the academia which assumes that Islam can be studied as a religion, an ideology, a civilization, or even a philosophy but not as political theory. Even though the emerging field of Comparative Political Theory has brought this bias to the attention of the academic world, there is still substantial resistance toward accepting Islamic intellectual activity as a legitimate part of political theory that is active today. Through an exploration of the current production of knowledge in Turkey among Islamic circles, this panel examines different debates that have informed current Islamic publications and seeks to uncover the basic features of this intellectual activity by offering a systematic approach to study it as a site of political theorizing. The papers examine the concepts, themes and approaches that constitute this intellectual forum and explore the ways in which it is informed by the local political, social and cultural context, and engages with both Islamic and Western intellectual traditions, thereby provincializing, or contextualizing the practice of political theorizing. One of the papers explores how the notion of civilization is discussed among Islamic intellectuals as an alternative to the notion of nationhood and is defined as a particular type of community bound by common intellectual traditions. Another looks at the concept of civil society and discusses whether the revival of an interest in Ottoman endowments (vakifs) constitutes an example of local political theorizing about Islamic capitalism. Examining current debates on the work of Ziya Gokalp, the third paper critically engages with the historiography of political thought in Turkey to highlight the ways in which the production of knowledge has been equally influenced by Islamic thought as it has been by Western intellectual traditions. The fourth explores Islamist reading practices as a form of political theory by examining the publications of a prominent Islamist NGO. The final paper studies ongoing debates on notions of political legitimacy and consent in several influential Islamic journals and problematizes the dichotomy of local and universal knowledge.


Some of the papers in this panel are funded by a TUBITAK Project Grant (Project No: 115K283)


Pol Science



Alev Cinar

(Bilkent University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Gizem Zencirci

(Providence College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Dunya Deniz Cakir

(National University of Singapore)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Alp Topal

(KoƧ University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Talha Koseoglu

(Bilkent University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;