Faculty Spotlight: Banu Gökarıksel
Professor Gökarıksel is a geographer interested in the role of the body as a political entity and the source of political actions. She has studied geopolitics with a focus on gender and religion in Turkey and the Middle East since the mid-1990s, and much of her current and future research still focuses on this area. In 2017, Professor Gökarıksel won the 2017 UNC Chapman Family Teaching Award. Nominees for this award are evaluated based on a portfolio that includes student recommendations, course evaluations, course syllabi, and peer reviews. This is a rigorous review process and a significant award!
Since 2014, Professor Gökarıksel has served in a four-year rotation as co-editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. This directly aligns with her career long research and allows her some broad influence in scholarship as she can call for open journal submissions on specific topics such as gender and sexuality of mobility and borders. Professor Gökarıksel also organizes and edits special forums through the journal. As part of the special forum “Feminist Perspectives on the 2016 Coup Attempt and its Aftermath in Turkey” that appeared in the March 2017 journal issue, Professor Gökarıksel authored a short article, “Making Gender Dynamics Visible in 2016 Coup Attempt in Turkey.” There is another forum and article on the Trump presidency and implications for Middle East Women’s Studies set to appear in the November 2017 edition.
Professor Gökarıksel’s work within the American sphere has largely been a recent development. During the lead up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, Professor Gökarıksel developed interest in the Trump movement and its presentation of masculinity and use of geopolitical tactics. Professor Gökarıksel said the Trump articles began as a conversation she had in the hallway with co-author and colleague, Professor Sara Smith. The discussion led to a 2016 article that was published almost immediately. Together, they utilize a feminist political geography perspective, with specific attention to the body as the “site of political production,” in order to examine current political events and ideologies. In 2017, Professors Gökariksel and Smith have published a longer article, “Intersectional Feminism Beyond U.S. Flag, Hijabs and Pussy Hats in Trump’s America,” in Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography. There are plans for future articles as interest and work in this area continue to grow. Professor Gökariksel says this recent American scholarship, while unique in its own ways, is still similar in other ways to her work in Turkey and her endeavors to map out the political scene there. Professor Gökariksel has similarly examined Turkish President Erdoğan’s use of masculinity and divisive tactics as she has worked for years to understand the way people in Turkey identify (or are identified) and the effect on shared spaces.
Professor Gökariksel’s current projects include co-editing a book with Professor Smith and graduate students Chris Neubert and Mike Hawkins, “Feminist Geography Unbound,” based on papers from a conference they co-hosted in May 2017. She is also working on a book with Professor Anna Secor (Geography, University of Kentucky) based on their National Science Foundation-funded project about the shifting role of religion in public life and how ordinary citizens’ encounters differ in Turkey today. This work seeks to understand how religion affects these daily interactions at every level from within the household to the workplace and public spaces. With Professor Secor, she also has co-authored articles examining the challenges of pluralism in post-secular Turkey including “Devout Muslim Masculinities: the Moral Geographies and Everyday Practices of Being Men,” published in Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography in 2017. Professor Gökarıksel will also be co-directing the 2018 Duke Middle East in Europe (Berlin, Germany), summer program. As part of this program, Professor Gökarıksel will be researching longtime Muslim-Turkish-Germans and their relationships within society in conjunction with new Muslim-Syrian refugees. She hopes to study how Turkish and Syrian populations interact with one another and how this may change the position of the Turkish populations in the larger German society.
Thank you Professor Gökarıksel for your work, and congratulations on your recent publications and awards!