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Postdoc success

last modified Jun 13, 2017 02:03 PM

POLIS is delighted to announce that Dr Burcu Ozcelik and Dr Eliza Garnsey will be (re)joining the Department in 2017/18, having both been awarded Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Dr Ozcelik’s research proposal, Resurgence or resilience? Religious nationalism, democracy and violence takes an innovative approach that reconsiders the cross-border politics of piety to further our understanding of the relationship between religion and nationalism in the Middle East. Examining minority-majority relations between religious identity groups and the state to historicise the dichotomy and its relevance today will involve questions of how religious nationalist movements confront the state system to reform at certain junctures, but can contribute to the resilience of illiberal states at others.

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, Dr Ozcelik will examine diverse constructions of populist religious nationalism, focusing on hybridity, mimicry and adaptation within and beyond the region. Her work will challenge orthodox narratives about populism and power in the Middle East, exploring the extent to which religious nationalist actors captured ideas on social justice, equality, and even cosmopolitanism—crafting non-Western accounts of democracy that captured the imagination and loyalty of many. Throwing into question conventional assumptions about politicised religious identity in the Middle East, the project will also consider, for example, 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.


Dr Garnsey will be working on Visual jurisprudence: a new theory of art and justice. ‘Visual jurisprudence’ is a recent concept referring to the array of visual evidence used inside the courtroom. For example, how do photographs engender belief when presented as evidence during a case? However, what does it mean when ‘visuals’ are not only presented as evidence but when they take the form of artworks and inhabit the space of a court? How do artworks and other instances of visual culture affect the provision of justice both inside and outside the courtroom? While images of judges and insignias are common sights in courts, other artworks and art collections are increasingly housed by and displayed in courts. The conception of visual jurisprudence Dr Garnsey proposes to develop through her research theorises how artworks become central to the bodies of aesthetic knowledge that shape how justice is understood and that shape the appearance of justice—two key concerns in political theory. She has been awarded funding by the British Academy.