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Dr Yael Navaro

Dr Yael Navaro

Reader (Senior Associate Professor) in Social Anthropology

Fellow, Newnham College

Office hours: Thursday 10-11am

Subject groups/Research projects

Living with Remnants:

Research Interests

Anthropology of politics; ethnography of the state; governance and sovereignty; law and legal anthropology; bureaucracy and administration; borders and partition; environments of war and its aftermath; remnants, ruination, remains; conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction; minorities; history, memory and violence; public movements and the public sphere; affect, subjectivity, emotions; psychoanalysis, affect theory, and anthropology; materiality and tangibility; spatiality and geography; documentary practices and technologies; knowledge practices; anthropological and social/political theory; secularism and Islamism; the anthropology of the Middle East and southeastern Europe, Turkey, Cyprus, post-Ottoman societies

My research to date has explored affect and subjectivity in the domains of politics, the public sphere, law, and bureaucracy. In Faces of the State: Secularism and Public Life in Turkey (Princeton University Press, 2002), I studied the production of a state-revering culture in Turkey through ethnographic work on the interface between secularism and Islamism. This interest led me, in further and more recent research, to study the unrecognized state in Northern Cyprus and its administration through questions about affect in a postwar environment. In my 2nd book The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Postwar Polity (Duke University Press, 2012) based on this ethnographic research, I explore affect in zones of ruination and abandonment, in materialities left behind and expropriated in the aftermath of war, as well as in the documentary practices, administration, and economy of an unrecognized state.

I have been conducting full-time research (January 2012 – December 2016) as Principal Investigator on a European Research Council (ERC) project. The project title is: “Living with Remnants: Politics, Materiality and Subjectivity in the Aftermath of Past Atrocities in Turkey” (REMNANTS) and was awarded as a Starting Investigator Grant (in the Consolidator category) in 2011. This European Research Council project team includes Dr. Zerrin Ozlem Biner, Dr. Alice von Bieberstein, and Dr. Seda Altug as post-doctoral Research Associates. For more information on the Remnants project see the Remnants website.

Read Dr Navaro's curriculum vitae here.


SAN3: Anthropological Theory and Methods: Schools of Anthropological Theory

SAN5: Thought, Belief and Ethics: Anthropology of Spiritual Beings

SAN6: Political Economy and Social Transformations: Posthumanism and the New Materialisms

Key Publications



In the Land of Khidr: Violence, Timespace and Spirituality at the Turkish/Syrian Interface. (under preparation).

Kurmaca Mekan: Kuzey Kıbrıs’ın Duygu Coğrafyası. Istanbul: Koç Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2016 (Translation: Cem Soydemir).  

The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Post-War Polity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012. 

2013 William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology

Faces of the State: Secularism and Public Life in Turkey. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.

Edited Volume:

Reverberations: Violence Across Time and Space. (co-edited with Zerrin Özlem Biner, Alice von Bieberstein and Seda Altuğ), Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018, fc.


Edited Special Issue

An Impromptu Uprising: Ethnographic Reflections on the Gezi Park Protests in Turkey.” Yildirim, Umut and Navaro-Yashin, Yael, ed. Fieldsights – Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology Online, October 31, 2013.

Special Issue on “Phantasmatic Realities, Passionate States” (co-edited with Jane Cowan), Anthropological Theory, vol. 7, no. 1, 2007.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

“Originary Violence and the Limits of the Ontological Method: Musa Dagh under Turkey’s Denialist Regime.” (under preparation)

“Reverberations of Violence: Introduction,” (co- authored), in Yael Navaro, Zerrin Özlem Biner, Alice von Bieberstein and Seda Altuğ, ed., Reverberations: Violence Across Time and Space. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018, fc. 

“Violence and Spirituality: Khidr Cosmography at the Turkish/Syrian Interface,” in Yael Navaro, Zerrin Özlem Biner, Alice von Bieberstein and Seda Altuğ, ed., Reverberations: Violence Across Time and Space. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018, fc. 

Shadows of the 1980 Coup and the Syrian War: Resisting in Antakya.” Fieldsights – Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology Online, October 31, 2013.

Editorial-Breaking Memory, Spoiling Memorization: The Taksim Protests in Istanbul.” Fieldsights – Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology Online, October 31, 2013.

Knowing the City: Migrants Negotiating the Built Environment in Istanbul”, in Helmut Anheier, Yudishtir Raj Isar, and Dacia Viejo-Rose, ed. Heritage, Memory and Identity (The Cultures and Globalization Series, Volume 4). London: Sage, 2011, pp. 231-38.

The Materiality of Sovereignty: Geographical Expertise and Changing Place Names in Northern Cyprus”, in P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, Thalia Dragonas, and Caglar Keyder ed. Spatial Conceptions of the Nation: Modernizing Geographies in Greece and Turkey. London: I.B.Tauris, 2010, pp. 127-43.

Pacifist Devices: the Human/Technology Interface in the Field of Conflict Resolution”, Cambridge Anthropology, Special Issue on ‘Bureaucratic Knowledge Practices,’ vol. 28, no. 3, 2008/2009, pp. 91-112.

Affective Spaces, Melancholic Objects: Ruination and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge”, Malinowski Memorial Lecture, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI), vol, 15, no. 1, 2009, pp. 1-18.

Make-Believe Papers, Legal Forms, and the Counterfeit: Affective Interactions Between Documents and People in Britain and Cyprus”, Anthropological Theory, vol. 7, no. 1, 2007, pp. 79-96.

Introduction: Fantasy and the Real in the Work of Begona Aretxaga”, Anthropological Theory, vol. 7, no. 1, 2007, pp. 5-8.

Affect in the Civil Service: A Study of a Modern State -System”, Postcolonial Studies , vol. 9, no. 3, 2006, pp. 281-294.

De-Ethnicizing the Ethnography of Cyprus: Political and Social Conflict Between Turkish-Cypriots and Settlers from Turkey”, in Yiannis Papadakis, Nicos Peristianis, and Gisela Welz, eds, Divided Cyprus: Modernity and an Island in Conflict. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006, pp. 84-99.

Confinement and the Imagination: Sovereignty and Subjectivity in a Quasi-State”, in Thomas Blom Hansen and Finn Steputtat, eds, Sovereign Bodies: Citizens, Migrants and States in the Postcolonial World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005, pp. 103-119.

Legal/Illegal Counterpoints: Subjecthood and Subjectivity in an Unrecognized State”, in Richard Ashby Wilson and Jon P. Mitchell, eds. Human Rights in Global Perspective: Anthropological Studies of Rights, Claims and Entitlements. London: Routledge, 2003, pp. 71-92.

“‘Life is Dead Here': Sensing the Political in ‘No Man’s Land’.” Anthropological Theory , vol. 3, no. 1, 2003, pp. 107-125. (re-printed in Neni Panourgia and George E. Marcus, eds. Ethnographica Moralia: Experiments in Interpretive Anthropology. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008, pp. 168-187).

The Market for Identities: Secularism, Islamism, Commodities”, in Deniz Kandiyoti and Ayse Saktanber, eds. Fragments of Culture: The Everyday of Modern Turkey. London: I. B. Tauris, 2002, pp. 221-253. (re-published in Turkish 2003).

The Historical Construction of Local Culture: Gender and Identity in the Politics of Secularism Versus Islam”, in Caglar Keyder, ed. Istanbul: Between the Global and the Local. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999. (re-published in Turkish, 2000).

“Uses and Abuses of ‘State and Society’ in Contemporary Turkey.” New Perspectives on Turkey , no. 18, 1998, pp. 1-22.

“Entrapped Between Categories: ‘East,’ ‘West,’ and the Practices of Consumption of Turkish-Islamists.’ Sociologus: Journal for Empirical Ethnosociology and Ethnopsychology , vol. 48, no. 1, 1998, pp. 1-16.

“Evde Taylorizm: Cumhuriyet’in ilk Yillarinda Evisinin Rasyonellesmesi.” (“Taylorism in the House: The Rationalization of Housewifery in the Early Republic”). Toplum ve Bilim, no. 84, 2000, pp. 51-74. (in Turkish)

“Bir Iktidar Soylemi Olarak ‘Sivil Toplum’.” (“Civil Society as a Discourse of Power”). Birikim, no. 105-106, 1998, pp. 57-62. (in Turkish)