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Working Paper No. 16/2014

UCL Anthropology Working Papers Series


UCL Anthropology
University College London
14 Taviton Street, London
WC1H 0BW, U.K.

ISSN 1759-6688
Editorial Board: Lucio Vinicius, Luke Freeman

Working Paper No. 16/2014
Published online 27 January 2014
© Copyright rests with the authors

CHANGE THROUGH SOHBET:
AGENCY AND SELFHOOD IN THE GÜLEN MOVEMENT

MUHAMMED AHMED

Dissertation submitted in 2012 for the BSc Anthropology

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ABSTRACT

This research focuses on the Gülen Movement, a popular faith-based movement in Turkey and is based on fieldwork carried out in Istanbul in 2012. After presenting an introduction to the movement, I focus on two aspects of the movement: its participants and the practice of Sohbet. I aim to explore the involvement of the participants and what this involvement means in terms of their agency and the role of the practice of Sohbet in the formation of a particular selves.

Although not focused exclusively on religious discourse and conceptions of ‘tradition’, I consider worth discussing this and will argue that religious discourse cannot always be conceived of as an exercise of power that subjects docile bodies and controls and dominates selves. Rather, it can also be used as a conscious tool to aid the process of forming particular selves. I will analyse data collected in interviews and participant observations with the movements, and based on Bourdieu’s notion of habitus, I aim to explore the practice of sohbet, showing how this is the most effective practice used by participants in forming a Gülen defined “Islamic habitus”.


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