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Dr Burcu Ozcelik

Dr Burcu  Ozcelik

Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow/Isaac Newton Trust

ARB, Room 322


Burcu Ozcelik is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow. She received her PhD from the Department of Politics and International Studies, where she was subsequently a Teaching Associate in Conflict, Peacebuilding and the Politics of the Middle East (2015-2017). Burcu’s first book, Kurds Across Borders: Turkey, Iraq and Syria is forthcoming in 2018. Her current book project examines women’s right-wing political activism in Turkey and the gendered response to the rise of religious nationalism. 

Research Interests

Dr Ozcelik’s research interests involve the contemporary politics of the Middle East, focusing on Turkey, Iraq, Syria and transnational Kurdish politics. She works on identity politics, popular resistance, religion and democracy in post-colonial and post-conflict societies as well as political theories of reconciliation, recognition and agonistic democracy. 

Burcu’s current research project, Resurgence or resilience? Religious nationalism, democracy and violence develops an innovative approach to reconsider the cross-border politics of piety in the Middle East. By focusing mainly on three cases—Kurdish Islamism and Alevism in Turkey and Shi’a nationalism in Iraq—as well as comparative analyses beyond the Middle East,  Burcu examines diverse constructions of populist religious nationalism as well as left-wing populism within and beyond the region. Her work challenges orthodox narratives about populism and power in the Middle East, exploring the extent to which religious nationalist actors mobilize ideas on social justice, equality, and even cosmopolitanism—crafting non-Western accounts of democracy that have captured the imagination and loyalty of many voters. Throwing into question conventional assumptions about politicised religious identity in the Middle East, the project also considers socialist, radical-democratic and secular Muslims beyond the tired Sunni-Shi’a sectarian lens. She has been awarded funding by the Leverhulme Trust and the Isaac Newton Trust.

Her work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Sada Middle East Analysis (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), Lebanon’s Daily Star, Syria Forward, the Cairo Review of Global Affairs and the Journal of the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies.


Burcu lectures on the politics of the Kurdish conflict in Turkey, Iraq and Syria for POL16: Conflict and Peacebuilding (Michaelmas 2017-2018)