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Islamist Mobilization in Turkey: A Study in Vernacular Politics (Studies in Modernity and National Identity) Paperback – September 1, 2002

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Islamist Mobilization in Turkey: A Study in Vernacular Politics (Studies in Modernity and National Identity) + Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics) + The Rise of Turkey: The Twenty-First Century's First Muslim Power
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Modernity and National Identity
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295982918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295982915
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Jenny White's book is a timely contribution to our understanding of the recent success of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey's parliamentary elections. The book provides fresh insights into the resilience of Islamic activism in Turkey, despite the government's continuous efforts to suppress it and to ban the political parties inspired by this movement.... [White] grounds her analysis in rich ethnography that brings to life her informants and their daily struggles.

(Middle East Journal)

The most important contribution of White's study is found in its rich exploration of the daily lives, beliefs and attitudes, and aspirations of the citizens of the Umraniye district of Istanbul. White takes great care in carrying out this meticulous research and presents the reader a wonderful insight into these people's environment..An excellent analysis in cultural anthropolgy and sociology.

(International Journal of Turkish Studies)

Anthropologist White has presented a gripping study of Islamization in contemporary Turkey.... With it's engaging style and fascinating people, conversation, and events, White's book will appeal to students and the educated public, as well as to those specifically interested in Turkey, Islam, politics, gender, and civil society.

(Religious Studies Review)

Islamist Mobilization in Turkey offers a rich ethnographic study of the grassroots Islamist mobilization in urban Turkey.

(H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences)

About the Author

Jenny B. White is associate professor of anthropology at Boston University.

More About the Author

Jenny White is a writer and a social anthropologist. Her first novel, The Sultan's Seal, was published in 2006. It was translated into fourteen languages and is available as a paperback and audiobook. Booklist has named it one of the top ten first novels of 2006 and one of the top ten historical novels of 2006. It was shortlisted for the 2006 Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award. The sequel, The Abyssinian Proof, was published in February 2008 (W. W. Norton) and a third Kamil Pasha novel, The Winter Thief, in 2010.

Jenny White was born in southern Germany and emigrated to the United States at the age of seven. She lived in New Rochelle, NY, where she learned English and attended grammar and high school. She studied at Lehman College in the Bronx, part of the City University of New York that had been set up for immigrant children. Working her way through school, she has held a variety of jobs. At various times, she has been a telephone operator, bookkeeper, librarian, file clerk, language teacher, receptionist, patient associate in a clinic, copyeditor, research assistant, teaching assistant, tour coordinator, professor, and now novelist. While at Lehman College, she studied abroad in Germany, where she first met people from Turkey, from which sprang a lifelong interest. After finishing college, she traveled to Turkey and stayed for three years, eventually earning a Master's degree in psychology from Hacettepe University in Ankara. After working for a couple of years in Montana, she moved to Texas to begin graduate work in anthropology, specializing in Turkey. She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jenny White now teaches social anthropology at Boston University as a tenured associate professor. She has published three scholarly books on contemporary Turkey. Money Makes Us Relatives, a description of women's labor in urban Turkey in the 1980s, was published in 1994. Islamist Mobilization in Turkey was published in 2002. It explains the rise of Islamic politics in Turkey in the 1990s and won the 2003 Douglass Prize for best book in Europeanist anthropology. Her latest book (November 2012), Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks, takes a look at the transformations that Turkish Islam and secularism -- and the idea of the nation -- have undergone in the past decade. What is behind Turkey's leap to international prominence, and what should we make of it? Jenny White lives in the Boston area.

"I learned English as a second language, primarily from books. This nurtured my relationship with language and made books my friends. As long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer. From my earliest days of learning English, I carried around a notebook in which I sketched the world in words. However, I also had a bent for science, so opportunity and curiosity took me in that direction, to graduate school and a career as an anthropologist. Over the years, the two desires merged, as my scholarly writing became more and more literary (although not fictional), and my experience in Turkey and knowledge of Turkish culture and history infused my fiction writing."

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Smith on April 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an important book for anyone interested in Turkey or the Islamist movement in general. Turkey is one of the most important nations in the world today as it stands with one foot in Europe and the other in the Middle East, and it also stands as a potential bellwether state for whether or not the Islamist movement can integrate successfully into a representative political system. Jenny White's research goes a long way in providing readers with a glimpse into how this country, as well as the various movements within it, operates.

This book discusses the political movements inside of Turkey using "vernacular politics" as a term to denote how these movements do not fit into what would be considered normal categories when speaking of politics or civil society. The term is used to emphasize that this Islamist movement crosses normal lines. Groups like the Welfare party and its successor the Virtue party are not strictly political parties, but instead they are a hybridization of politics, civic organizations, foundations and community associations and groups. This is why the author suggests the need for the new term to denote this brand of politics.

What the author does well is to show just how amorphous this Islamist movement is. It is not a top down political party like we see in the West. The organization springs from the grassroots community and then finds its expression in the leadership. This amorphous structure is its strength as well as a potential weakness. Its strength lies in its ability to endure. Since the movement is not simply political, but instead has its roots in the community as well, this makes the movement impossible to stamp out, which is why the movement has been able to survive the government's banning of the political parties.
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I am very interested in understanding the current political movement in Turkey where there is an apparent resurgence in the Islamist parties and a shift from secular to Islamic law. It is difficult for me to understand why the females in Turkish society are interested in moving from secular to Sharia law and I was hoping that this book would provide me with the perspective I wanted. For a woman in any country to voluntarily move into a society living under Sharia law, there has to be some personal gain perceived and I want to understand what that gain is.

Unfortunately, I received the impression that the author was more interested in impressing me with her knowledge of big words and I found her writing style too pedantic where she never used a common word when an obscure, scholarly one was available. I am a relatively well educated individual with what I consider and above average vocabulary but I was only able to labor through portions of two chapters before I gave up. It is too bad the author adopted such a difficult to read writing style, as the topic of the book held great interest.
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