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Alevis in Britain: emerging identities in a transnational social space

Akdemir, Ayşegül (2016) Alevis in Britain: emerging identities in a transnational social space. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Since the late 1980s Alevi identity has become increasingly visible in a transnational context. Alevis in Turkey and across various European countries have contributed to this process through active involvement in local, national and cross-border activities. From the 1980s on, mainly Kurdish and Alevi people from Central and Eastern parts of Turkey have migrated to Britain, established cultural centres and places of worship (cemevi) and gained cultural rights and public visibility. Through ethnographic research conducted mainly in London and partly in Istanbul, I explore Alevi identity building in Britain within a transnational context in which they strive to gain recognition both in Britain and in Turkey through equal citizenship (eşit vatandaşlık). My research contributes to Alevis’ visibility in academia and sheds light on the concepts of transnationalism and identity through empirical evidence. Alevi identity is a central motivation for mobilising Alevis and they construct their identity in a dynamic process that involves links with Turkey, symbolic attachment to homeland based identities and their new experiences in the receiving country, engaging in various cross-border practices on the supranational and transnational levels. The two levels interact; a universal human rights discourse and the institutions that promote it strengthen Alevi claims on the transnational level in both their interactions with the Turkish government and translocal activities. They not only use this human rights discourse instrumentally in their claims making but also argue that it is a component of their belief system. In both private and public spheres, Alevis continue to express their identity in opposition to, or difference from, the Sunni majority in Turkey through emphasising morality over religious practices, liberal gender attitudes and claiming their inherent compatibility with the host society’s norms. By integrating these principles into their communal activities, Alevis in Britain also construct their identity as one that is progressive, inclusive and in opposition to assimilation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Aysegul Akdemir
Date Deposited: 27 May 2016 14:21
Last Modified: 27 May 2016 14:21

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