The research questions that I engage with are at the intersection of comparative politics and international relations with a particular focus on the role of religion in politics. I have three main research agendas, all related to my thematic emphasis of religion and politics: State policies toward religious minorities; comparative analysis of religion, secularism, and democracy; and religion and public goods provision.
State Policies toward Religious Minorities
In my first research agenda, I examine the impact of the international context on state policies toward religious minorities. My book, Alien Citizens: State and Religious Minorities in Turkey and France (Cambridge University Press, 2020), examines how and when international pressure exerts change in institutions of state-religion relations in Turkey and France. In this book, I compare Turkey and France concerning the impact of international context on their treatment of religious minorities, Christians in Turkey, and Muslims in France. My article in Comparative Politics (2014), entitled “International Pressure, Domestic Politics, and Dynamics of Religious Freedom: Evidence from Turkey,” through an in-depth analysis of Turkish state policies toward Christian minorities, demonstrates how domestic actors strategically and normatively use international pressure to change state policies in the domestic realm. Additionally, in collaboration with other colleagues, I have two works in progress on Christian minorities in Jordan and Turkey (with Turan Kayaoglu), and Muslim minorities in France and the United States (with Bryan Brooks).
Religion, Secularism, and Democracy
In my other research agenda, I address the relationship between religion, secularism, and democracy in the Middle East. I seek to explore the impact of Islamic actors on regime change by examining their interactions with international context, domestic socio-structural factors, and political institutions. In my article published in Political Science Quarterly (2014), I demonstrate the impact of “timing” in democratic consolidation. This article, entitled “Critical Junctures as Catalysts in Democratic Consolidation: The Case of Turkey,” focuses on the complicated relationship between Islam, secularism and democratic consolidation in Turkey in the last decade. In another article, published in Uluslararası İlişkiler/International Relations (2016), I examine the conditions under which domestic ideological shifts produce ideology-based foreign policy. In this study, titled, “Ideology and Foreign Policy: A Comparative Analysis of Kemalist (1930-1939) and Islamist (2011-2015) Foreign Policies in Turkey,” I analyze why Kemalist elite pursued a cautious and pragmatic foreign policy in the 1930s while the Islamist elite implemented an ideology-based foreign policy in the first half of the 2010s. This study, which attempts to explain this variation, argues that those governments with low risk of being overthrown in domestic politics tend to pursue an ideologically-induced foreign policy if international environment offers a larger maneuver room to act. My article, “From Honourable to Villainous: Political Competition and Sectarianisation in Turkey,” published in Religion, State, & Society, examines how political considerations influence the creation of religious discourses and interpretations among rival religious actors. Specifically, it analyzes how the religio-political discourses of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gülen movement in Turkey shifted once they became political rivals in the 2010s. I am working on a book manuscript, titled, Two Tales of Islamism: The Rise and Fall of Muslim Democracy. This manuscript analyzes the conditions under which Islamists pursue democratic or authoritarian policies.
Religion and Public Goods Provision
In my final research agenda, in collaboration with Carolyn Warner, Christopher Hale, and Adam Cohen, I examine how religions, in general, and Catholicism and Islam, in particular, contribute to public goods provision. We conducted research using experiments and case studies of mosque and parish communities in four European countries. Based on this project I co-authored a book, Generating Generosity in Catholicism and Islam: Beliefs, Institutions and Public Goods Provision (Cambridge University Press, 2018). I also co-authored two articles, titled, “Religion and Public Goods Provision: Experimental and Interview Evidence from Catholicism and Islam in Europe” (Comparative Politics, 2015), and “Microfoundations of Religion and Public Goods Provision: Belief, Belonging and Giving Catholicism and Islam” (Politics and Religion, 2015). This project did not only look at historical, theological and faith-based traditions of giving in Catholicism and Islam but also analyzed the impact of social and political factors on the giving of Catholics and Muslims.
Interdisciplinary Collaborations on Religion and Human Development
In addition to these research questions, I engage in interdisciplinary collaborations on the relationship between religion and human development, especially on pressing issues such as peace, education, and economic development. In an article, “Ethnic Conflict and Gender Inequality in Education: The Case of Turkey” (Turkish Studies, 2018), I and my co-authors Jody Neathery-Castro and Selin Akyuz examine the role of ethnic conflict in gender inequality in education in Turkey. In a multi-authored (with Ian Pelletier, Leif Lundmark, Rachel Gardner, Gina Scott Ligon) article, we examine the strategies of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in recruiting militants and suggest counter-messaging instruments. This work, titled as “Why ISIS’s Message Resonates: Leveraging Islam, Sociopolitical Catalysts, and Adaptive Messaging,” was published by Studies in Conflict and Terrorism (2016).
Alien Citizens: State and Religious Minorities in Turkey and France, Cambridge University Press, November 2020
Generating Generosity: Beliefs, Institutions and Public Goods Provision in Catholicism and Islam, Cambridge University Press, 2018, (with Carolyn Warner, Christopher Hale and Adam Cohen)
“From Honourable to Villainous: Political Competition and Sectarianisation in Turkey,” Religion, State, & Society, Volume 49 No 2 (2021), pp. 93-108
“Ethnic Conflict and Gender Inequality in Education: The Case of Turkey” Turkish Studies, Volume 19 No 3 (2018), pp. 400-421 (with Jody Neathery-Castro and Selin Akyuz)
“Ideology and Foreign Policy: A Comparative Analysis of Kemalist (1930-1939) and Islamist (2011-2015) Foreign Policies in Turkey,” Uluslararası İlişkiler/International Relations, Volume 13 No 52 (2016), pp. 67-88.
“Why ISIS’ Message Resonates: Leveraging Islam, Socio-Political Messaging and Adaptive Messaging,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Volume 39 Issue 10 (July 2016), pp. 871-899, (with Ian Pelletier, Leif Lundmark, Rachel Gardner, Gina Scott Ligon).
“Micro-Foundations of Religion and Public Goods Provision: Belief, Belonging and Giving Catholicism and Islam,” Politics and Religion, Volume 8 No 4 (December 2015), pp. 718-744 (with Carolyn Warner).
“Religion and Public Goods Provision: Experimental and Interview Evidence from Catholicism and Islam in Europe,” Comparative Politics, Volume 47 No 2 (January 2015), pp. 189-209 (with Carolyn Warner, Christopher Hale, Adam Cohen and Kathryn Johnson).
“International Pressure, Domestic Politics and Dynamics of Religious Freedom: Evidence from Turkey,” Comparative Politics, Volume 46 No 2 (January 2014), pp. 127-145.
“Critical Junctures as Catalysts in Democratic Consolidation: The Case of Turkey,” Political Science Quarterly, Volume 129 No 2 (Summer 2014), pp. 293-318.