Program Area(s): Comparative Politics
Regional Specialization(s): Middle East
Deeply Divided: Understanding the Polarization over Religion in Public Life in Turkey and Israel
Dissertation Committee: James Mahoney, Wendy Pearlman and Hendrik Spruyt
My research interests lie primarily in state-society relations, politics of religion and social conflict, especially in the Middle Eastern context, but with an eye towards comparisons across regions. Specifically, I am interested in social divisions arising from deeply clashing visions of the state and public life. My dissertation investigates what causes intense social polarization over the role of religion in shaping politics and public life, through a comparative historical analysis of the cases of Turkey and Israel, alongside United States, Iran and France as secondary cases. Beyond its causal, theory-building goal, the dissertation also seeks to conceptualize what such a polarization means and what it entails, by showing the specific ways through which it divides Turkish and Israeli societies. Through interview data and other primary sources, it aims to bring to life how the chasm between people with clashing worldviews manifests itself in public and private discourse, as well as in the way it affects Turks’ and Israelis’ decision-making processes and behavior.