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Imaginative Landscapes of Islamist Politics Across the Balkans-to-Bengal Complex

Dr. Sertaç Sehlikoglu has been awarded a ERC Starting Grant (€1.5million ) for a major new research project entitled Sehlikoglu“Imaginative Landscapes of Islamist Politics Across the Balkans-to-Bengal Complex”. She is a Cambridge-trained social anthropologist specialised in gender and subjectivity in the Middle East and in Islamicate contexts. She completed her PhD at the Department of Social Antropology in 2014 and currently holds a Junior Research Fellowship at Pembroke College. The new project will begin during 2020.

Dr. Sehlikoglu's PhD work focused on the formation of desiring selves in Turkey. In her new project, she continues an interest from that work in psychoanalytical approaches to aspiration, but shifts focus from feminist self-making in Turkey towards the imaginative elements in the formation of populist Islamist political movements across a much wider region, stretching from the Balkans to the Bay of Bengal. Dr. Sehlikoglu developed her initial ideas for this project in a pilot project supported by a Gibbs Travelling Research Fellowship from Newnham College in 2018-2019. She argues that 'a collaborative anthropological study is essential to ethnographically excavate the imaginative forces in the formation of populist Islamist aspirations in the Balkans (North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina), the Middle East (Turkey, Levant, and Iran), and South Asia (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). These sites offer a coherent ethnographic framework because of their connected and intertwined spaces, histories, communities and post-imperial trajectories’.

The European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants have been awarded to 408 researchers from across Europe. The awards help individual researchers to build their own teams and conduct world-leading research across all disciplines, creating an estimated 2,500 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and other staff at the host institutions. This year, eight Cambridge scholars were awarded an ERC Starting Grant; of this, six are in Natural Sciences and Engineering, one in Life Sciences. This is the only such award at Cambridge this year in the Social Sciences.

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