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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Alper Y. Dede
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Political Science
Title: Islamism, State Control over Religion and Social Identity: Turkey and Egypt
Dr. J. Kevin Corder, Chair
Dr. Gunther Hega
Dr. Mustafa Mirzeler
Dr. Sybil Rhodes
Date: Wednesday, July 9, 2008 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
3301 Friedmann Hall
In post Cold War politics, as a powerful alternative to the authoritarian “status-quo” regimes of the Muslim World, Islamism is among the most critical political issues as various Islamist movements increasingly challenge governments for more political reforms, democratization, and greater participation in the political process.
The current debates on Islamism, though useful, often emphasize the issues of security, democracy, or stability. However, they seem to overlook the importance of processes and the mechanisms of Islamism as well as how Islamists’ concerns for preserving their Islamic social identity (Muslimness) and government control over religion contribute to their politicization. Thus, this study seeks to understand the increasing political role of Islamism in Turkey and Egypt through interview data and content analysis by exploring how Islamists challenge government control over religion and respond to perceived external threats to their Islamic social identity.
This study also links Islamist political activism to Islamist frames that Islamists have been vigorously using to interpret social, economic, and political grievances; propose solutions for them; and motivate masses for further political action. This study also examines the comprehensiveness of Islamism in both countries by employing the Gramscian concept of “counter-hegemonic war of position” in addition to discussing topics such as how conflictive or cooperative patterns of Islamism alternate based on changing opportunity structures under authoritarian settings, and what motivates prospective movement participants to get involved in high-risk Islamist activism.
Being a cross-national/cultural comparative study, this dissertation fills a significant gap in the literature due to lack of such comparative studies. In addition, by studying Islamism through Gramscian and social
movement theories, this study is a major contribution to the literature on social movement studies in non-Western contexts.