I am Professor of Geography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I started to serve as the Chair of the Curriculum in Global Studies in 2021. In the past, I served as The Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education at The Graduate School (2018-2021) and the co-editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (2014-2018). I received my PhD in Geography from the University of Washington, Seattle and MA in Sociology/Anthropology from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey. I was awarded the 2017 Chapman Family University Teaching Award at UNC and the 2018 American Association of Geographers Enhancing Diversity Award. I co-directed Duke in Istanbul summer program in 2012 and 2013 and Duke Middle East in Europe summer program (based in Berlin) in 2018 and 2019.
My research examines bodies, intimacy, and everyday spaces as key sites of politics and geopolitics. I situate my work in the fields of geography of religion and feminist political and cultural geographies, engage feminist and social theory, and use a multiplicity of methods, including focus groups, interviews, visual analysis, discourse analysis, and surveys in my projects. I am interested in religion beyond the ‘officially sacred’ and politics beyond elections and state institutions but as manifest in and produced by ordinary people and the ways they make their bodies, traverse spaces of everyday urban life, and encounter others as differently positioned subjects. My research has contributed to understanding embodied and lived experiences of religion and secularism, the production of social difference, and the formation of subjects, borders, and territory. My research trajectory started with a focus on Turkey to study contemporary formations of Muslim femininity during a time when being a Muslim woman was (and remains) a highly contested (geo)political issue. In a series of editorials and articles, I analyze the embodied, racialized, and gendered politics of populist political movements from Trump to Erdoğan, as well as feminism and social justice.
With Michael Hawkins, Christopher Neubert, and Sara Smith, I co-edited Feminist Geography Unbound: Discomfort, Bodies, and Prefigured Futures (inaugural book of Gender, Feminism, and Geography Book Series edited by Jennifer Fluri and Amy Trauger, West Virginia University Press), which was published in February 2021. I collaborated with Christine Schenk (University of Zurich) and Negar Elodie Behzadi (University of Bristol) on a special issue on "Security, Violence, and Mobility: The Embodied and Everyday Politics of Negotiating Muslim Femininities" for the journal Political Geography.
I'm currently working on a project with Anna J. Secor (Durham University) that examines neighbors and neighborhoods in urban Turkey as central to the production of Alevi precarity. I co-organized a virtual conference called Encountering Difference, Embodying Boundaries, and Unsettling Borders: Middle Eastern Refugees and Middle Eastern Refugees and Immigrants in the European Union in October-November 2020 and sessions at the 2021 American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting and 2022 Feminist Geography Conference on refugees. In 2021-22, I've been part of a working group on feminist geopolitics of refugees and developing a special issue of the journal of Geopolitics on this topic. I'm also collaborating with Sunčana Laketa (University of Neuchâtel) and Sara Fregonese (University of Birmingham) on a theme issue on "Lockdown and the Intimate" for the journal Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space.
I am also a part of the feminist geography collective FLOCK.
You can read more about my current interests under Projects.