Floating Sophia, Polarizing to Abeyance, Waqf-izing the State

In: Journal of Muslims in Europe
Murat Akan Institut d’études avancées de Paris Paris France
Department of Political Science and International Relations, Boğaziçi University Istanbul Turkey

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The 2020 ‘mosque-ing’ of Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) shook a cornerstone of the Turkish Republican tradition. I lay out the immediate political context, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the content of five court decisions that built up to the mosque-ing, and what these show about the current state of secularism, democracy and institutions in Turkey. I argue that the Ayasofya episode is a case of polarization to the point of abeyance and waqf-izing the Turkish state. Evaluating the episode in light of the past decade of Turkish politics, I propose that it is the present stage of a trajectory from the politics of modernity to the anti-politics of abeyance, and that the midpoint of this trajectory is the politics of ‘multiple modernities’. It is time to lay to rest the wave of conservative epistemologies emerging from Shmuel Eisenstadt’s ‘multiple modernities’.

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