Adjunct Associate Professor, Women’s Studies, Duke University, Durham.
Joint Appointment in the Curriculum in Global Studies at UNC-CH.
In the News
Read my essay on Muslim women's veiling practices and watch a video interview with me: http://islamicommentary.org/2013/05/banu-gokariksel-on-reorienting-the-veil/
Listen to an NPR-WUNC The State of Things interview with me: http://wunc.org/post/muslim-women-speak-about-veil
Read about the ReOrienting the Veil Conference I co-organized and presented at: http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2013/02/conference-focuses-on-inuence-of-muslim-veil
Read a Le Monde article that includes an interview with me: http://www.lemonde.fr/style/article/2012/12/07/a-la-mode-d-allah_1800700_1575563.html
I am a cultural geographer interested in how subjects, particularly women, form their identities through everyday practices. In my studies of the everyday I trace the links between the intimate space of the body and spaces such as the home, street, shopping mall and city. I focus mainly on the cultural and ethical questions that arise for subjects engaged in the production, consumption and use of new urban spaces and commodities. I therefore position my work at the intersections of two areas of scholarship: (a) modernity and globalization, with a focus on commodities, consumption, and urban consumer spaces, and (b) the formation of identities and subjects, particularly in relation to femininity, piety and social class.
My interest in these topics is rooted in my living and research experience in Turkey, where I have been conducting fieldwork-based research since 1996. In recent decades, Turkey has undertaken a series of economic, political, and socio-cultural restructurings in pursuit of globalization and E.U. integration. These restructurings have contributed to the growth of a diverse consumer landscape, the rise of political Islam and ‘Islamic’ entrepreneurialism, and a heightened tension between secular and visibly Muslim identities. My research analyzes the formation of subjects, spaces, and commodities within this context of politically charged debates about Islam, gender, consumer capitalism and modernity.
In exploring these themes, I have focused on two relatively new phenomena in Turkey: shopping malls and the ‘veiling-fashion’ industry (or, the apparel industry for women’s fashionable ‘Islamic’ dress). Through ethnographic and multi-method fieldwork research, my research examines the contemporary role of Islam and secularism in the production of spaces, commodities and subjects. My recent publications have analyzed the spaces of the body, home, street, shopping mall, factory floor, and city; veiling-fashion as a commodity; and the formation and practices of pious and modern femininities, as well as of ‘Islamic’ businesses.
This research has enabled me to engage central debates in cultural and feminist geography, as well as literatures on geographies of consumption and religion. This engagement has entailed a critical re-assessment of ‘Islamic’ entrepreneurship and commodities, Muslim women’s identities, and the politics of veiling. More recently, I have collaborated in a project that examines the complex dynamics of Muslim societies across time and space from a cross-regional and multidisciplinary perspective. My ongoing research projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
I teach undergraduate courses on geographic and place-based approaches to globalization (‘People and Places’) and to the Middle East (‘Space, Power, and Identity in the Middle East’). My upper-level undergraduate courses and graduate seminar examine ‘Gender and Space in the Middle East,’ transnational and cross-regional Muslim networks (‘Transnational Geographies of Muslim Societies’), the production of subjects and subjectivities in the context of political and economic restructuring (‘Neoliberalism and Subjectivity’), and the genealogies and current research in feminist geography ('Feminist Geographies').
My current graduate students are: Murat Es (Ph.D, 2012. Turkish-Dutch Mosques and the Construction of Transnational Spaces in Europe. Currently teaching in Hong Kong.); Nathan Swanson (ABD, The Politics of Home in Israel); Katie Akin (Spirituality, the Body, and the Object: Santo Daime Churches in Brazil and the United States); Mike Dimpfl (co-chair with Sara Smith); and Jim Kuras (the state and media in Turkey).
I co-directed "Duke in Turkey" Summer 2012 with Erdağ Göknar (Duke University). This was a six-week program on intensive coursework and a number of field trips. Click here students' blog about their experiences in Turkey and here for their cultural map of Istanbul through the lens of gender.
Project 1: Neoliberal Globalization, Modernity, and IdentityThis project has two goals: 1) to examine the relationship between political economy and urban space by studying how policies and practices of neoliberalization and global city formation have produced new urban spaces, 2) to analyze social practices and cultural difference produced in and by these new spaces. This work is mainly based on my dissertation and masters thesis and primarily focuses on the new and distinctly constructed spaces of shopping malls in Istanbul. This project also includes a parallel analysis of the case of Jakarta where I have conducted supplementary fieldwork research. My ethnographic data consists of over one hundred and forty interviews I conducted in these two cities between January 2000 and June 2001 and in Istanbul in 1996, in addition to an archival research of city government publications and web sites.
Project 2: The Veiling Fashion Industry -- funded by the National Science FoundationMy research on shopping malls revealed the symbolic exclusion of Islamic dress from this space despite the assertive presence of very fashionably veiled women and the mushrooming veiling-fashion boutiques and department stores across Istanbul. Beginning in the 1990s, a new, increasingly visible and rapidly growing veiling fashion industry has emerged in Turkey (and elsewhere in the ‘Muslim world’). Turkish producers of veiling-fashion have begun to export their products to retail outlets in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Funded by the National Science Foundation, I am collaborating with Anna Secor (Geography, University of Kentucky) in a research project that investigates the new veiling-fashion industry based in Turkey. We are particularly interested in the intersection of Islamism and capitalism and its geopolitical and cultural implications. This project analyzes a) the scope, history, and geography of the veiling-fashion industry headquartered in Turkey by tracing out the circuits of production, design, sales, and finance that characterize the industry; and b) the implications of the production, sale, and consumption of veiling-fashion for geopolitics, geo-economics, and identity formation in a transnational context.
Sawyer Seminar on Diversity and Conformity in Muslim Societies: Historical Coexistence and Contemporary Struggles -- funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation (2009-2010)
Muslim societies throughout history have been notable in their diversity and tolerance; intermittent "reform" projects, most notably modern political movements, and current military conflicts have sought to impose uniformity on top of this diversity. In this Seminar I am collaborating with Sarah Shields (History, UNC) to examine the tension between diversity and conformity in contemporary Muslim societies. We analyze the historical record to gain new insights about the present through an integrated, multidisciplinary exploration of three topics: the impact of decolonization and subsequent rise of nationalist and Salafi movements; movements to promote uniformity in physical spaces and in vocal expression considered sacred to Islam; and the treatment of those perceived to be outside the mainstream of Muslim societies.
Selected Recent Publications
Banu Gökarıksel and Anna Secor, '"You can't know how they are inside": The Ambivalence of Veiling and Discourses of the Other in Turkey," in Peter Hopkins, Lily Kong, and Elizabeth Olson eds. Religion and Place: Landscape, Politics, and Piety. 2013. Springer Press: Dordrecht.
Banu Gökarıksel (2012) “The Intimate Politics of Secularism and the Headscarf: The Mall, the Neighborhood, and the Public Square in Istanbul” Gender, Place, and Culture, 19, 1, 1-20.
Banu Gökarıksel and Anna Secor, (2012) “‘Even I Was Tempted:’ The Moral Ambivalence and Ethical Practice of Veiling-Fashion in Turkey,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, DOI:10.1080/00045608.2011.601221
Banu Gökarıksel and Ellen McLarney eds. Special Issue: “Muslim Women, Consumer Capitalism and Islamic Culture Industry” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 2010, 6, 3. http://inscribe.typepad.com/inscribe_journal/2010/07/muslim-women-consumer-capitalism-and-the-islamic-culture-industry.html
Banu Gökarıksel and Ellen McLarney, “Introduction: Muslim Women, Consumer Capitalism and Islamic Culture Industry” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 2010, 6, 3, 1-18.
Banu Gökarıksel and Anna Secor, “Between Fashion and Tesettür: Marketing and Consuming Women’s Islamic Dress” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 2010, 6, 3, 118-148.
Banu Gökarıksel and Anna Secor, “Islamic-ness in the Life of a Commodity: Veiling-Fashion in Turkey” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 2010, 35, 313-333.
"Beyond the officially sacred: religion, secularism, and the body in the production of subjectivity," September 2009, Social and Cultural Geography, 10, 6, 657-674.
Banu Gökarıksel and Anna Secor, "New transnational geographies of Islamism, capitalism and subjectivity: The veiling-fashion industry in Turkey", 2009, Area, 41, 1, 6-18.
"Feminist Geography of Veiling: Gender, Class and Religion in the Making of Modern Spaces and Subjects in Istanbul", in Karen Morin and Jeanne Kay Guelke eds Women, Religion, and Space, 2007, pp. 61-80. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Banu Gökarıksel and Katharyne Mitchell, "Veiling, Secularism and the Neoliberal Subject: National Narratives and Supranational Desires in Turkey and France", Global Networks, 2005, 5, 2, 147-165.
Feminist Geographies: Bodies and Power (Graduate Seminar, Fall 2011)
Sawyer Seminar: Diversity and Conformity in Muslim Societies (Fall 2009-Spring 2010)
Neoliberalism and Subjectivity (Graduate Seminar, Spring 2009)
Global Studies Honors Seminar (Fall 2008-Spring 2009)
Gender in the Middle East (Spring 2005, Fall 2006, Fall 2007, Fall 2010, Fall 2011)
Space, Power and Identity in the Middle East (First Year Seminar, Fall 2006, Fall 2010, Spring 2013)
Global Issues (Fall 2007)
Social Geography (Fall 2004, Fall 2005)
People and Places (Spring 2004, Fall 2004, Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012)