• [Islam;
  • secularism;
  • civil society;
  • liberalism;
  • pluralism;
  • Turkey]


Practices and ideals of confessional pluralism and liberal interpretations of Islam have achieved new prominence in Turkish civil society in recent years. In this article, I marshal fieldwork conducted among a variety of Turkish Islamic civil society institutions to argue that confessional pluralism and liberal Islam have reoriented practices of politics and secularism in Turkey. As I demonstrate, liberal discourse about religious difference emerges within civil society as a foil to hegemonic, homogeneous visions of Islam on the part of the state. My principal theoretical contribution is the civil society effect: how the institutions and discourses of civil society are idealized and rendered distinct from state power. Ethnographically, I focus on two religious groups that have achieved organization within civil society: Turkish Alevis and supporters of the Sunni Hizmet Movement.