Elif Babül

  • Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • Nexus Track Chair for Law, Public Policy, and Human Rights
Elif Babul

Elif Babül’s research is informed by her long-term interests in everyday forms of state power and political authority, formation of governmental subjectivities, constitution and contestation of legality and legitimacy, and the interaction between national and transnational mechanisms of governance. Drawing on those research interests, her book explores the standardization process the Turkish state has to undergo in order to become a member of the European Union (EU). Babül examines the mechanism and effects of standardization by focusing on human rights training programs for state officials in Turkey. Based on over two years of extensive field research alongside eleven different training programs all over Turkey, she explores how the accession process reshapes Turkish governmental actors and their practices of governance, as well as the politics of human rights in the country.

Elif Babül’s research was supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, Social Science Research Council, the Wenner Gren Foundation and several Stanford University fellowships. Her publications include a number of articles in both English and Turkish in journals such as American Ethnologist, Political and Legal Anthropology Review and New Perspectives on Turkey; as well as edited volumes such as Diaspora and Memory: Figures of Displacement in Contemporary Literature, Arts and Politics.

At Mount Holyoke, Babül teaches classes in political and legal anthropology, anthropology of human rights, ethnographic research methods and writing, Middle Eastern societies and cultures, and Muslim minorities in Europe and the U.S.

Areas of Expertise

Political and legal anthropology, anthropology of the state, transnational standardization processes, politics of human rights, citizenship and national belonging, gender and nationalism, Turkey and the Middle East.


  • Ph.D., Stanford University
  • M.A., Boğaziçi University
  • B.A., Ankara University

Happening at Mount Holyoke

Recent Campus News

A new book by the Mount Holyoke professor wins the William E. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology.

Recent Grants

Received a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for the workshop, “Knowledge, Facts and Evidence in Anthropology in the Era of ‘Post-Truth,’” to take place over three days in August 2022 at Mount Holyoke.

Fellowship from the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT) with support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the project “Oppressive Generosity, Compulsory Guesthood, and the Politics of Hospitality in Turkey.” The project is for six months.

Recent Publications

Alemdaroğlu, A., Babül, E., Keshavarzian, A., Al-Tikriti, N. (eds.) (2020) Kurdistan, One and Many, Middle East Report 295 (Summer 2020).

Recent Awards

Babül's book Bureaucratic Intimacies (Stanford University Press, 2017) received an honorable mention in the 2019 Biennial Book Award given by the Middle East section of the American Anthropological Association.

Babül's book “Bureaucratic Intimacies: Translating Human Rights in Turkey” (Stanford University Press, 2017), was awarded the William E. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology by the Society for the Anthropology of Europe. The award is given to the best book published in the past year.

Recent Honors

Was invited to speak in a panel organized by the London School of Economics and Political Science Human Rights Center on “Defending Academic Autonomy in Turkey,” which took place on April 28, 2021. 

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