PhD in History
I am a doctoral candidate at Northeastern University studying the Ottoman empire, modern Middle East, modern Europe, and World history. I am interested in state-religion relations in imperial settings and nation-states. Currently, I work on my dissertation project: “Strategies of Survival: Popular Piety and Subaltern Publicity of Islamic Revival in Early Republican Turkey, 1925-1960.” I investigate how the subordinate strata of the Turkish nation-in-the-making outside major urban centers of Anatolia survived the repressive regulations and aggressively secular measures of the Kemalist state from 1925 until 1960. From a subaltern perspective, I examine religion-state relations focusing on Said Nursi’s Nur community as a case study for a social history of religious life in the early Turkish Republic. I analyze the ways in which religious commonfolk resisted the top-down imposition of Kemalist cultural experiments and their strategies to re-shape cultural and religious policies of the state in the long run. I also analyze the contributions of ordinary people to the Republic of Turkey in its transformation into a more pluralistic political entity than before as well as to republican values. These values included self-improvement, self-initiative, public opinion, collective decision-making, popular sovereignty, the national identity of Turkishness, active citizenship with civil and human rights including but not limited to the freedom of conscience and the right to practice religion, dedication to the nation, as well as participation into the collective good. My research demonstrate that Nurcus’ struggle to survive as a group of pious people in a hostile secular regime, whose way of life and strong beliefs in the Afterlife were at odds with the positivist teachings of the Kemalist education system and public policies, forced Nurcus to configure certain workable but non-confrontational strategies. By this way, they could bypass state intervention into their religious lives but keep public peace for a potential rapprochement in the future with the state. Thus, Nurcus negotiated the character of national identity and secularism, and contributed to the democratic experience of the Turkish Republic during the multiparty regime in the 1950s. I received my B.A. in International Relations from Istanbul University focusing on diplomacy and world politics. I earned two Master’s degrees; one in Islamic Studies from Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and the other in Ottoman & Modern Middle East History from State University of New York, Binghamton. I engaged in religious work at Bloomfield Muslim Community Center in Connecticut before coming to Northeastern University to study World History. I am an avid fan of public history and fond of visiting historical sites around me.
Related Schools & Departments
Research Interests: Social and religious movements, intellectual and cultural history, knowledge and reform in the Muslim world, Islamic political thought, and global history of constitutionalism.
More Student Paths
Charles T. Wallace-Thomas IV
- Charles chose to attend Northeastern because he was intrigued by the signature co-op program and wanted a curriculum that combined real-world experience without compromising thorough academic rigor.
- Initially an engineering student, Charles switched to a combined major in Economics and Mathematics to build upon his interest in economic and social justice work. He also has a minor in psychology.
- In his first year, Charles took Sustainable Renewable Energy Development in the Global South with Professor Shalanda Baker, which taught him to question systems as they exist, no matter how established.
- As part of the Ujima Global Leaders Program through the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute, Charles did community service, working on the Timebank team which helped him give back to Boston.
- For his first co-op, Charles split his time between the Center for Economic Democracy and the Boston Ujima Project, where he analyzed studies on community needs, like infrastructure and childcare.
- As Campaign Coordinator and Director of Northeastern’s Students Advancing Intersectional Dreams, Charles had spoken to people like Patrisse Cullors, Richie Reseda, Michelle Alexander, and Angela Davis.
- Over the summer of 2020, Charles was one of the co-creators of the #BlackAtNU campaign where he advocated for racial literacy courses and for a restorative and transformative justice center on campus...
- Casey took “Global Markets and Local Cultures'' with the late Professor Jeffrey Juris. After traveling, she saw how the coursework mirrored reality, and knew her education was preparing her for the world.
- Casey went on a DOC to Argentina and Uruguay. She wanted to become fluent in Spanish, and she did become highly proficient while living in Buenos Aires and visiting the glaciers of the Patagonia region.
- Casey did her first co-op at the Museum of Fine Arts as a Community Arts program assistant. She gained valuable hands-on experience assisting in arts classes for the local communities.
- Casey joined the Sociology & Anthropology Student Association during her third year. It allowed her to get to know her fellow students and mirrored the small school experience she loved.
- Casey studied abroad in Nepal for her capstone thesis. She lived alone for a month while she researched and wrote about the lived experience of climate change in the lower Himalayas.
- Casey joined the Sunrise Movement, an environmental group that organizes protests urging political action for climate justice issues. With them, she truly felt like a part of the local Boston community.
- Casey worked for the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, founded by Professor Sarah Wylie. She produced promotional videos, developed a virtual research event, wrote event programming, and more. ..
- Northeastern has provided Sunita with interdisciplinary opportunities to utilize her education in the Greater Boston community, on co-op, and abroad.
- Sunita spent Summer 2019 on a Dialogue of Civilizations in Jordan and Egypt. It helped her realize her interest in Middle East politics and the Arabic language.
- Her favorite class, Revolution, Civil War, and Insurrection taught by Professor Risa Kitagawa invited students to question the motives behind acts of violence against governments.
- Her first co-op was at the Institute for Economics and Peace in Sydney, Australia where she analyzed data on the corruption of police forces in Mexico.
- Her second co-op at Enel X provided insight into battery storage, solar and wind farms, demand response, and the economic incentives that drive the energy market.
- In spring 2019, Sunita joined the Student Alliance for Prison Reform as well as Partakers, a partner of the club, where she mentored a prisoner at MCI Concord.
- Sunita is a member of the International Relations Council and has traveled abroad with the club to compete in Model Arab League, Model NATO, and Model UN conferences...
- Yasser was in the Foundation Year program at Northeastern. The program was a rigorous deep dive into core subject classes that helped Yasser bridge the gap between the high school and college experiences.
- Initially indecisive, Yasser’s interest in traveling and experience exploring different religious texts in high school led him to a double major in international affairs and religious studies.
- Yasser took Issues in Cities and Suburbs with Professor Erin Graves in Fall 2018. As someone deeply invested in urban life, he found the course was an enlightening look at the problems endemic to cities.
- Yasser’s first co-op was at the Boston Beer Company as a Program Operations and Event Assistant. He worked on inventory, public relations, directed brewery events, and maintained workspace organization.
- Yasser went on a Dialogue of Civilizations to Europe in Summer 2019 and took Engineering Principles in Nature with Professor Sandra Shefelbine.
- Yasser implemented and maintained community gardens all over Boston on deserted plots of land during his time as the Northeastern Campus Director for the campus’ United Nations Millennium Fellowship.
- Yasser began working at the Food Project and at a farm in Dorchester, he maintained the farm, harvested crops, distributed produce through donations and food markets, and worked on overall logistics...