Taksim Meydanı. Partition Square. Although it has taken on potent new resonances in recent days, the name of Istanbul’s throbbing central plaza commemorates a now-forgotten history, the function of the site during the Ottoman period as a point of distribution and “partition” of water lines from the north of the city to other districts. Already long the favored site of demonstrations in Istanbul, Taksim is now the scene of the largest anti-government protests in Turkish Republican history. And the name of the square speaks volumes—what better word than “partition” to describe the increasingly politicized cleavages that have defined Turkish public life over the past decade, finally achieving international reverberation with the current protests?Read the rest of An excursion through the partitions of Taksim Square.
Jeremy F. Walton
Jeremy F. Walton is currently a Jamal Daniel Post-Doctoral Fellow for the Study of the Levant at Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies; beginning in Autumn 2013, he will be a fellow at the CETREN Project for the Study of Secularism and New Religiosities at the University of Göttingen. From 2009 to 2012, he taught in the Religious Studies Program at New York University. Walton received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago (2009) and is currently in the process of editing his dissertation manuscript, Horizons and Histories of Liberal Piety: Civil Islam and Secularism in Contemporary Turkey, for publication. His recently published article in American Ethnologist, “Confessional Pluralism and the Civil Society Effect: Liberal Mediations of Islam and Secularism in Contemporary Turkey,” summarizes the cardinal themes of his research. Additionally, Walton co-edited, with John Kelly, Beatrice Jaregui, and Sean T. Mitchell, the collection Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency and has book chapters in Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency, Orienting Istanbul: Cultural Capital of Europe? and Survey of the Sociology of Islam & Muslim Societies: Secularism, Economy and Politics. His teaching and research broadly interrogate the complex relationships among Islamic practice, the politics of contemporary secularism, and global regimes of publicness. Read Jeremy Walton's contribution to Egyptian elections.
Posts by Jeremy F. Walton:
“The Lives of Great Religious Books,” a promising new series from Princeton University Press, debuted this month with three titles—Martin E. Marty’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, Donald Lopez’s The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Biography, and Garry Wills’ Augustine’s Confessions. On March 24, I had the opportunity to discuss “The Lives of Great Religious Books” with Professor Marty, Professor Lopez, and Vanessa Ochs, another author in the series, who is currently working on a biography of the Passover Haggadah. Above all, our conversation centered on the metaphor of a text’s biography, its purchase and limitations. Just as we might think of a human biography as a series of contexts linked together by a single individual, so too is the biography of a text a series of contexts linked by the text itself.Read the rest of Moments from the lives of great religious books.
Invariably, contemporary discussions of Islam seem to begin and end with the relationship between Islam and politics—both anti-Islamic pundits and critics of Islamophobia vigorously assert that the mechanics and kinetics of this relationship are central to the evaluation of Islam today. A nexus of paranoia, fear, ignorance, and old-fashioned bigotry typically animates arguments on one side, while those on the other tend toward the polemics and apologetics of subaltern critique. Both camps, however, assume that discussions of Islam necessarily traverse and trouble the domain of the political. This exclusive emphasis on the political marks the difference between Islamphobia à la mode and the older Orientalist discourses of Edward Said’s interrogation: unlike today’s Islamophobia, classical Orientalism constituted a total romance of the East that subsumed political, aesthetic, religious, and cultural forms. In contrast, contemporary Euro-American public debate about Islam evinces what I call the compulsion of the political.Read the rest of Islam and the compulsion of the political.