Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 2018-10-04

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Ahmed E. Souaiaia

Abstract

In this project, I profile politically active women in a Muslim society –more specifically in Turkey. I explore the question of how female leaders experience the influence of Islam in contemporary Turkish politics—has had on their understanding(s) of themselves, their public and private lives, their political philosophies and aspirations. In many places around the world, and in a variety of ways, women are constrained from fully participating in political life. The rationale for limiting women's opportunities in the political sphere is often rooted in religion. Religion, or some interpretations thereof, expects them to focus their energies and talents on the private sphere: society can grow and thrive only when women stay home and leave the business of politics to men. Religion, however, often gives women mixed messages about their roles and capacities. Many women take advantage of this ambiguity to interpret their relationship to the realm of politics in creative and sometimes surprising ways. It is important to examine religion's influence on women who are active participants in the public sphere. In this study, utilizing interviews conducted with female members of the Turkish parliament, I show the ways in which women have challenged both the state and religion in order to increase their social and political competence, power, and agency. I find that critical self-reflections of many politically astute Muslim women show that the influences of religion on their consciousness are complex and flexible. Women politicians' constraints in politics derive from cultural, traditional norms rather than religious origins. While some women appear to unconsciously conform to these constraints, majority –if not all, of the women politicians interviewed suggest ongoing efforts to tackle the impositions of the public and private spheres of life.

Public Abstract

In this project, I profile politically active women in a Muslim society –more specifically in Turkey. I explore the question of how female leaders experience the influence of Islam in contemporary Turkish politics—has had on their understanding(s) of themselves, their public and private lives, their political philosophies and aspirations. In many places around the world, and in a variety of ways, women are constrained from fully participating in political life. The rationale for limiting women’s opportunities in the political sphere is often rooted in religion. Religion, or some interpretations thereof, expects them to focus their energies and talents on the private sphere: society can grow and thrive only when women stay home and leave the business of politics to men. Religion, however, often gives women mixed messages about their roles and capacities. Many women take advantage of this ambiguity to interpret their relationship to the realm of politics in creative and sometimes surprising ways. It is important to examine religion’s influence on women who are active participants in the public sphere. In this study, utilizing interviews conducted with female members of the Turkish parliament, I show the ways in which women have challenged both the state and religion in order to increase their social and political competence, power, and agency. I find that critical self-reflections of many politically astute Muslim women show that the influences of religion on their consciousness are complex and flexible.

Keywords

publicabstract

Pages

viii, 207 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 193-207).

Copyright

Copyright 2016 Sumeyye Pakdil Kesgin

Available for download on Thursday, October 04, 2018

Included in

Religion Commons

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