Elif Babül

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Specialization: 
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.

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.

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Selected Publications

  • "Postscript to Training Bureaucrats, Practicing for Europe: Negotiating Bureaucratic Authority and Governmental Legitimacy in Turkey" PoLAR Virtual Edition. 2016.
  • "The Paradox of Protection:  Human Rights, the Masculinist State and the Moral Economy of Gratitude in Turkey"  American Ethnologist.  February 2015. 41(1):  116-130.
  •  “Training Bureaucrats, Practicing for Europe: Constitutive Bureaucratic Imaginaries in Turkey” Political and Legal Anthropology Review. Spring 2012. 35(1):
  • “Smells Like Translation: An Introduction.” Middle East Section. Yasmin Moll. (ed.). Anthropology News. October 2011. 52(7): 41-42.
  • “Human Rights Translations: Reframing the Universal and the International for Bureaucracy in Turkey.” Middle East Section. Emilio Spadola. (ed.). Anthropology News. April 2010. 51(4): 41.
  • "Claiming a Place Through Memories of Belonging: Politics of Recognition on the Island of Imbros." New Perspectives on Turkey. No. 34 (2006): 47-65.