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Berna Turam

Professor of Sociology and International Affairs

Berna Turam, Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University, is a political sociologist and an ethnographer. Turam has an abiding interest in conducting research on state-society interaction, particularly on the interaction between ordinary Muslim people and secular states. She is the author of Between Islam and the State: The Politics of Engagement (Stanford University Press, 2007), and Gaining Freedoms: Claiming Space in Istanbul and Berlin (Stanford University Press, 2015), and the editor of Secular State and Religious Society: Two Forces at Play in Turkey (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). She wrote several articles in journals including British Journal of Sociology, International Journal of Urban and Regional Studies, Journal of Urban Affairs, Journal of Democracy, and Nations and Nationalism. Currently, Turam is working on two major projects. First, she conducted multi-sited ethnography in the refugee-receiving and -hosting cities in Eastern and Central Mediterranean. Her field research in Athens, the Greek islands with hotspots, Palermo and Lampedusa explores politics of fear and safety at the hyper-securitized borders between the Middle East and Southern Europe. Specifically, her project reveals and analyzes the ways in which “the cities of refuge” in borderlands carve out safe places for Muslim refugees at the cost of resisting, confronting and sometimes subverting the anti-immigrant regimes of Europe. Turam is working on several articles and a book sequel based on her ethnography of securitization of borders and migration. With comparative goals, she is planning to continue her ethnography of borders that are crossed by large numbers of refugees between the Middle East and Europe. She is concurrently collaborating with Dr. Idil Elveris on a research project on the role of Turkey’s Bar association and legal profession in fighting freedom violations of the right-wing populist authoritarian regime in Turkey.

View CV
  • 2021- . Advisory Board member, Middle East Law and Governance
  • 2021-2022. Fulbright Scholar
  • 2019.  Visiting Professor, University of Trento, Italy
  • 2018.  Max Planck Fellowship, Gottingen-Germany
  • 2017.  Erasmus Fellowship, Vrje University, Cosmopolis 4CITIES, Brussels
  • 2016.  Dahrendorf Fellowship at LSE, European Studies (Spring-summer), London
  • 2016-17.  Humanities Center Fellowship Residency, “Inclusions,” Northeastern University
  • 2014-21.  Editorial Board, Signs
  • 2013-21.  Editorial Board, Turkish Review
  • 2013.  Best Article award by International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
  • 2010-13. Editorial Board, IJMES, International Journal of Middle East Politics (by Cambridge University Press)


Selected Articles:

  • 2023. ““The Geopolitics of Fear: Pro-refugee Resistance against Europe’s Racial Security” Political Geography.
  • 2021. “Turkey’s Final exam on Freedom: Boğazici University Fights the Authoritarian Regime,” Social Research: An International Quarterly, 88 (2): 587-618. Project MUSE
  • 2021. “Refugees in the Borderlands: Safe Places versus Securitization in Athens-Greece,” Journal of Urban Affairs,
  • 2019. “The Contested City as a Bulwark against Populism: How Resilient is Istanbul?” In Weinstein, L. (Ed.) Spotlight:Political Geographies of Right-Wing Populism. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 43 (5).
  • 2017. “Split City, Divided State in Turkey” Contemporary Islam, 11(2), 185-199.
  • 2015. “Gulenology.” American Interest, March issue.
  • 2013. “Primacy of Space in Politics: Bargaining Space, Power and Freedom in an Istanbul neighborhood,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research: 37 (2).
    (awarded best article by IJURR)
  • 2012. “Turkey Under AKP: Are Rights and Liberties Safe?” Journal of Democracy, 23 (1), January issue.
  • 2008. “Turkish Women Divided by Politics: Secular Activism versus Islamic Non- defiance” International Feminist Journal of Politics, 10 (4).
  • 2004. “The Politics of engagement between Islam and the state: ambivalences of civil society” British Journal of Sociology, vol. 55(2)
    • Reprinted in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed) 2006. Islam and Globalization. Routledge
  • 2004. “A bargain between the secular state and Turkish Islam: politics of ethnicity in Kazakhstan”, Nations and Nationalism, vol.10 (3).


  • Gaining Freedoms: Claiming Space in Istanbul and Berlin (Stanford University Press, 2015)
  • Secular State and Religious Society: Two Forces at Play in Turkey (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
  • Turkiye’de Islam ve Devlet: Demokrasi, Etkilesim, Donusum. (Istanbul: Bilgi Universitesi Yayinlari., 2011)
    (Turkish translation of Between Islam and the State)
  • Between Islam and the State: The Politics of Engagement (Stanford University Press, 2007)


Course catalog
  • Examines the roots of the urbanization process, major ways of thinking about it, and the development of world cities and megacities. The twenty-first century will be a century in which urbanism is a central problem and opportunity. Considers the economic, political, cultural, and environmental dimensions of urbanism across the globe. Includes specific case studies from around the world. Encourages students to develop a knowledge of particular cities in order to examine the key themes of the course.

  • Offers a senior research and writing seminar that integrates and assesses the knowledge and skills developed by students participating in the international affairs curriculum, including both experiential (co-op, Dialogue of Civilizations, study abroad, internship, or other approved international experience) and classroom-based components. Requires student self-reflection as well as new research, analysis, and writing, which culminate in a final paper and presentation. Topics include contemporary global issues and draw on relevant literature in the disciplines relating to international affairs.