The quest for new muslim politics: Turkey since the 1990s
Usluer, Ayşe Sözen
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This dissertation studies how modern Muslim individuals have changed the trajectory of political Islam in Turkey since the 1990s. This multi-case study, through a sample of students, entrepreneurs, and women, aims at exploring the daily agenda of Muslims and their unintentional role in shaping politics and society. The study examines critically that the literature on Islamist resurgence, and its transformation, is dominated by an emphasis on the struggle between seculars and Islamists. This study firstly problematizes how one assesses the many changes taking place in the Islamist trajectory, in the framework of secular/Islamic division, and then it disregards the tensions taking place within Islamic circles. Through focusing on inner circle debates, the study seeks to discover what is really changing in political Islam and what continues to be the same. The findings are twofold. First, we establish that the daily life practices of modern Muslims yield new understandings on the state, society, Islamic economy and the gender relations. Moreover, differentiating deeply from orthodox Islamist approach, these new configurations of concepts and contexts in Islamic circles result in the undermining of Islamist ‘authority’. Second, despite the new readings and interpretations of Islam, Islam still plays an important role in the (daily) life of Muslims—embedded in the capillaries of Muslim societies, it has capacity to influence politics and society, while new designs in the public sphere, in accordance with the practice of Muslims’ private lives, prevent not only the full secularization and liberalization of Muslim politics, but also cause the rise of conservatism in Muslim societies.