Folds of Authoritarianism: Financial Capitalism, Mobilization, and Political Islam in Turkey


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Beginning in 2002, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has mobilized millions of Turkish citizens from the most impoverished districts of Istanbul. Based on two years of ethnographic engagement in two districts of Istanbul, the party’s strongholds Esenler and Kucukcekmece, this project explores the conjunction of financial capitalism, mass mobilization, and political Islam. By paying close attention to personal histories, daily capacities, emerging hopes, and intergenerational grievances of the party members and sympathizers, the project investigates how material and financial changes facilitate and even promote a popular knowledge that religiously informed authoritarian politics, embodied by the AKP in Turkey, are the only solutions for the predicaments of late capitalism. Ultimately, the project problematizes some key presumptions of contemporary social scientific analyses, namely individualization, depoliticization, and economic rationality, and investigates the emergence of alternative practices in their steads: self-negation, authoritarian mobilization, and theological expectations.