Elisabeth Özdalga

Sosyolog, Siyaset Bilimci

Middle East Technical University

She is a sociologist and political scientist. She was born in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1946. She is married to Prof. Dr. Haluk Özdalga, who was a party executive of the CHP for some time and then became a member of parliament for the AK Party. Elisabeth came to Turkey in the early 1970s and received education in Middle East Technical University as an MEB scholar. She attended  Mübeccel Kıray’s courses. She received her PhD degree from the University of Gothenburg. Her dissertation thesis was on the CHP. After 1983, she worked as lecturer at the Sociology Department of METU. She served as Director of The Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul between 1999 and 2002.

Prof. Özdalga is known for her studies on the sociology of religion. She particularly dealt with Alawism and the Fethullah Gülen movement. She has been among the authors participating in the 9th Abant Intelligentsia Platform. She aroused interest with her articles and books on the problems which headscarved women face.

In Özdalga’s approach to the topics of religion, secularism and religious trends in Turkey, doubtlessly there are some superiorities compared to the others writing on these topics. Doubtlessly, the primary superiority is, her ability to look from an “external” perspective as a political scientist who has grown up in Sweden and also from an “internal” perspective as a person who has spent a major portion of her professional life in a Turkish university.   I think, this superiority and depth are reflected with the following analysis I quoted from Özdalga’s article titled “Civil Society and its Enemies”: Like Kemalism has prevented the growth of the civil society as much as it has contributed to its growth, Islamism was the carrier of the opposite trends. Not all organizations or all aspects of the organizations shaped on behalf of Islam are contrary to the development of a democratic society... Those who close their eyes to the pluralistic and dynamic aspects of the Islamic movement and who focus only on its negative, communitarian sides, indirectly contribute to the formation of obstacles in front of a viable civil society. In this way, they are the enemies of the civil society as much as the Islamists with whom they are aiming to struggle… The key to understand the ideological conflicts about the civil society and the democracy, is not only found in the struggle between the secularists and Islamists, at the same time, or may be more, in the inter-Islamist struggles.(p. 87-88) In these lines written in 1997, it is possible to find the clue of the eventual development of the Islamic movement in Turkey.” (Şahin Alpay)


Batı ve Orta Asya’da Nakşibendiler (English, 1994), Modern Türkiye’de Örtünme Sorunu Resmi Laiklik ve Popüler İslam (The Veiling Issue, Official Secularism and Popular Islam in Modern Turkey, 1998), Alevi Kimliği (with Tolsson and C. Raudvere, transl.: Bilge Kurt Torun, Hayati Torun, 1999),Sivil Toplum, Demokrasi ve İslâm Dünyası  (with Sune Persson, transl.: Ahmet Fethi, 1999), Türkiye ve Ortadoğu’da Sufilik, Müzik ve Toplum (English, 2001) İslamcılığın Türkiye Seyri (transl. Gamze Türkoğlu, 2006), Late Ottoman Society. The Intellectual Legacy [Geç Osmanlı Toplumu - Entelektüel Miras] (editor, Routledge Curzon, London, 2005).

REFERENCE: Taha Akyol / Başörtüsü (Milliyet, 22 Şubat 1998), Ahmet Yaşar Ocak / Makalelerden Oluşan Bir Yapıt: Alevi Kimliği (Cumhuriyet Kitap, 10.6.1999), Nuriye Akman / Gülen Genç Aktivistlere Şiddete Dayanmayan Yollar Öneriyor (Zaman, 8.6.2003), Şahin Alpay / “İslamcılığın Türkiye Seyri”  (Zaman, 2 Eylül 2006), Ayşen Gür / Türkiye’de İslamcılık (Hürriyet Keyif eki, 20.8.2006), İhsan Işık / Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006, gen. 2. bas. 2007) - Ünlü Fikir ve Kültür Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 3, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013), Elisabeth Özdalga / Başörtülü kadın mücadelesinde yalnız bırakıldı (Zaman, 22 Eylül 2008). 


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