Since the formation of the Republic in 1923, Friday sermons (hutbe) have been an important platform that allows the state to engage and communicate with the Turkish people. Sermon topics vary from religious and ethical issues to matters concerning family, women, health, education, business and the environment. Even if politics, in the name of secularism, has been banned from mosques and sermons, questions of how to be a good citizen and honour the Turkish nation have been of utmost importance. With an all-pervading sermon theme of social, national and political unity, Elisabeth Özdalga explores how long-standing religious rituals are utilised and mobilised in the formation of modern political loyalties and national identities.
Elisabeth Özdalga is a retired senior researcher, and before that director, of the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul. She was professor of sociology at the Middle East University in Ankara 1994-2009 and visiting chair of the Department of Political Science at Bilkent University in Ankara 2011-13. She is the editor of several anthologies, among others Late Ottoman Society (RoutledgeCurzon, 2005), Novel and Nation in the Muslim World (with Daniella Kuzmanovic) (Palgrave 2015), Muslim Preaching in the Middle East and Beyond (with Simon Stjernholm) (Edinburgh University Press, 2020), and author of ‘Islamism and Nationalism as Sister Ideologies: Reflections on the Politicization of Islam in a Longue Durée Perspective,’ Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 407-23, May 2009.
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