How do the city and urban ways of life influence democracy? Berna Turam explores how urban space can create new and creative politics, particularly in Turkey, where the authoritarian regime cracks down on disagreement and opposition in civil society, political society and in political institutions. Her ethnography analyzes urban contestation, which enables new alliances both in exceptional moments like the Gezi protest and in everyday life. The particular processes of inclusion and mixing in urban sites challenge the binary view of Islamist-secularist conflict, as city life frees urbanites from old ideological antagonisms. With a locus of two contested cities, Istanbul and Berlin, Turam argues that the process of democratization is not the reduction of conflict, but rather the capacity to form new alliances out of it.
Berna Turam is Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Northeastern University. Her research interest is in the interplay between government and the city; ordinary Muslim people and the state, in particular, and religion and politics in general. Her most recent work focuses on the politics of space and place; freedom and territoriality, inclusion and democracy. She is the author of Between Islam and the State: The Politics of Engagement (Stanford University Press, 2007), and Gaining Freedoms: Claiming Space in Istanbul and Berlin (Stanford University Press, 2015) and the editor of Secular State and Religious Society: Two Forces at Play in Turkey (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).