Secularism, Religious Nationalism, and the Public Sphere in Comparative Perspective
October 15 - 17, 2004
Bilkent University

This workshop is planned as part of an international collaborative project titled “Icons, Images, and Ideologies of Religion and Nation: Secularism, Religious Nationalism, and the Public Sphere in Comparative Perspective,” which is funded by a Social Science Research Council (SSRC) International Collaborative Research Grant for the Middle East And North Africa Region. This research project is jointly run by Alev Cinar (Bilkent University), Srirupa Roy (University of Massachusetts at Amherst) and Maha Yahya (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) who are collaborating as three research partners.

We view the exchange of knowledge through this workshop as a unique opportunity to practice interdisciplinarity in its truest sense, as the creation of a new and distinctive ‘inter’ space between disciplines rather than as an additive combination of multiple theoretical paradigms. The effort to creatively synthesize different disciplinary perspectives is a motivating goal of our collaborative project, with an intensive exchange of knowledge occurring at all stages of the research process.

The Workshop Objectives

One of the most important components of this project is to enhance collaboration and scholarly exchange among scholars from the MENA region and South Asia and to establish the basis of a scholarly network on secularism and the public sphere.

By convening this workshop, we hope to widen the scope and the implications of cross-regional exchange and collaboration beyond the core group of the three research partners. Toward this end, we plan to include sessions on plans and strategies for the creation of long-term and institutional networks of scholarly exchange within the MENA region and also between the MENA and South Asia region. Thus, apart from sharing research with each other through the presentation of papers, the workshop participants will also collaborate on the development of cross-regional links and networks, by discussing issues such as the possibility of establishing institutional linkages within and across regions (for instance, a research network involving CRTS in Ankara and PUKAR or Sarai in India as research partners). The workshop proceedings and ideas for future collaboration will be posted on the project website, which will also contain links to research resources in the MENA and South Asia region.

Potential Participants

The potential participants of this workshop are scholars whose research areas involve the public sphere, urban studies, visual culture, media and film, and public rituals and who are working in the MENA and South Asia regions.

  • Maha Yahya (Lebanon – American University of Beirut)
  • Mertina Reiker (Egypt – American University in Cairo)
  • Samia Mehrez (Egypt – American University in Cairo)
  • Walid Sadek (Lebanon – American University of Beirut)
  • Fawwaz Traboulsi (Lebanon – Lebanese American University)

  • Srirupa Roy (India – University of Massachusetts, USA)
  • Usha Zacharias (India – Westfield State College, USA)
  • Ravi Sundaram (India – Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi)
  • Sabina Kidwai (AJK Mass Communication Research Centre – Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi)

  • Alev Çınar – Bilkent University
  • Ayse Öncü – Sabancı University
  • Arif Güven Sargın – METU
  • Buket Türkmen – Galatasaray University
  • Arzu Öztürkmen – Boğaziçi University
  • Gizem Zencirci – Bilkent University
  • Nezih Erdoğan – Bahçeşehir University


  • Alev Çınar (Department of Political Science – Bilkent University)
  • Srirupa Roy (Department of Political Science – University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
  • Maha Yahya (Department of Architecture and Urban Planning – M.I.T.)
Bilkent University
06800 Bilkent – Ankara Turkey
Tel: +90 (312) 290 1253 – Fax: +90 (312) 266 4958