Elif Babül

Associate Professor of Anthropology; on leave spring 2021
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.

Recent Campus News

Elif Babul, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Elif Babül's new book wins prize

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

This is a photograph of Iqbal and her youth volunteers

MHC student brings community together

Uswa Iqbal ’18 took on a project to foster civic pride and neighborly unity in Hamtramck, Michigan, a city torn by urban stresses and cultural differences.

Elif Babul, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

MHC professor to discuss Turkish human rights

Elif M. Babül will give a reading from her new book about Turkey’s humanitarian issues during its transition to EU membership, on Nov. 16 at the Odyssey.

Recent Publications

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

Babül, E. (2020). Humanism in Ruins: Entangled Legacies of the Greek-Turkish Population Exchange. By Aslı Iğsız. Stanford: Stanford University Press. doi:10.1017/slr.2020.98

Babül, E. M. (2020). Radical once more: the contentious politics of human rights in Turkey. Social Anthropology, 28(1), 50–65. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-8676.12740

Babül, E. M. "Postscript to Training Bureaucrats, Practicing for Europe: Negotiating Bureaucratic Authority and Governmental Legitimacy in Turkey" PoLAR Virtual Edition. 2016.

Babül, E. M. "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.

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.