Istanbul Seminars 2016
Bilgi University

9th Istanbul Seminars May 24-28, 2016

Religion, Rights and the Public Sphere

The Istanbul Seminars 2016 welcome international students, postgraduates and researchers to join a week of philosophical meetings with renowned intellectuals who are committed to the issues of pluralism and democracy.

In the past few years, many students from all over the world (Egypt, France, Germany, Greece Turkey, Italy, Ireland, Poland, The Netherlands, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Spain, UK, USA) attended the seminars.

Events are free of charge and open to all



Budget is limited. Small grants are addressed to students/scholars depending on their motivation letter, cv, academic reference letter, travel distance from Istanbul, financial status.
Applicants are noticed on the result of the evaluation committee as soon as possible after the applications deadline. Granted participants are required to attend all the program 24-28 May.
The grant will be delivered on Saturday the 28th of May, in cash. To pre-registered participants who will attend the entire Seminar program: a daily free lunch ticket to be spent at the Campus Cafeteria will be provided. Tickets will be given at the registration desk in the morning of the 24-25-26-27-28 of May.

Certificate of Attendance:
Registered applicants who attend the whole Seminars will receive a Certificate of Attendance.

If you wish to attend single sessions, you may register at the conference hall entrance. No lunch tickets are provided for participants of single sessions.



Enrolled participants have the possibility of getting involved in one of four working groups related to the general seminar topic. Participants involved in the working groups will receive some reading material before the beginning of the Seminars. Each working group will discuss the preliminary readings and the speeches given by the Speakers. At the end of the program each working group will present the results to the audience.

Working groups meet daily at the end of the sessions, for about one hour.

Working groups 2016:
1. Religious and Identity Conflicts
2. Radicalization of Identities in Europe
3. Religious Wars in the Middle East
4. Religion and the Public Sphere in Turkey

For the INTRODUCTORY READINGS of the workshops please see below.

You may choose to get involved in the working groups filling the registration form. A Committee will assign participating scholars to the working groups on the basis of their interests and CV.

Enrollment in the working groups is not compulsory, but welcome.


Introductory Reading List for the Istanbul Seminars 2016:

Zygmunt Bauman (2016), Strangers at Our Door, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Seyla Benhabib (2002), The Claims of Culture. Equality and Diversity in the Global Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Manuel Castells (2015), Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Nilüfer Göle (2015): Islam and Secularity: The Future of Europe’s Public Sphere, Durham (NC): Duke University Press.

Jürgen Habermas (2006), “Religion in the Public Sphere,” in European Journal of Philosophy 14 (1), pp. 1–25.

Olivier Roy (2014), Holy Ignorance. When Religion and Culture Part Ways, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Michael Walzer (2015), The Paradox Of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Patrick Weil (2016), “Can a Citizen be Sovereign?, in Humanity Journal, January 2, 2016.



Group: “Religious and Identity Conflicts”
Tutor: Volker Kaul, LUISS University in Rome

Charles Taylor (1994), “The Politics of Recognition,” in Amy Gutmann (ed.), Multiculturalism. Examining the Politics of Recognition, Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press, pp. 25-73.


Group: Radicalization of Identities in Europe
Mura Palasek (Independent researcher) and Debora Tonelli (Bruno Kessler Foundation, Italy)

Spyros Sofos, Overview on ISIL/ISIS (it starts in the 2nd hour of the lecture on del2)

Michael Degerald, On the Historical Overview of Islamic radicalism

Pew survey:

Olivier Roy, Islamic Terrorist Readicalization in Europe:


Group: “Religious Wars in the Middle East”
Tutor: Mohammed Hashas

Readings from: A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section “Religions and Social Sciences“. Free online at:

Readings (60 pages):

1.John Esposito,  Islam and Political Violence, (15 pages)

1.2 Jocelyne Cesari, Religion and Politics: What Does God Have To Do with It? ( pages)

1.3 Arie Perliger, Comparative Framework for Understanding Jewish and Christian Violent Fundamentalism ( pages)

1.4 Mark Juergensmeyer, Entering the Mindset of Violent Religious Activists ( pages)

2. Ella Landau-Tasseron, Delegitimizing ISIS On Islamic Grounds: Criticism Of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi By Muslim Scholars, (5 pages)


Mohammed Ayoob, The Myth of the Islamic State: The History of a Political Idea, Foreign Affairs – April 3, 2016 (4 pages)

Moshe Koppel, Religion and State in Israel: A Modest Proposal, Mosaic – July 1 2013, (10 pages)


Group: “Religion and the Public Sphere in Turkey”
Tutor: Meysam Badamchi, Istanbul Sehir University

Hakan Yavuz (2003), Islamic Political Identity in Turkey, Oxford: Oxford University Press, chapters 7-9, pp. 151-239. Concentrate in particular on chapters 7 and 9.


Useful information for an enjoyable stay in Istanbul

Location: the Istanbul Seminars are held at Istanbul Bilgi University Santral Istanbul Campus, located in the Silahtaraga neighbourhood at the upper end of Golden Horn.

Bilgi University Santral Campus address: Eski Silahtaraga Elektrik Santrali Silahtaraga Mah. Kazim Karabekir Cad. No. 1 34060 Eyüp / Istanbul
Phone +90 (0) 212 311 50 00+90 (0) 212 311 50 00

Cafeterias and Restaurants: Istanbul Bilgi University operates several facilities for the convenience of students and staff on its campus. The university cafeterias are popular and lively meeting places, both for a relaxing moderately-priced meal and social gatherings with friends.

Travel and Accommodation: Istanbul Seminars are organized without any support from other institutions. Speakers and participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses. Students must arrange their accommodation personally.

Things in Istanbul change very quickly, even though we know several hostels where students stayed in the past years, they may be closed or quite different at the present. Hence, our advice is to check on the web, as there are hundreds of options at decent price that will allow you to enjoy your week in Istanbul on a reasonable budget.

A room in Sultanhamet, Istanbul’s wonderful historical district, may be a suitable option since you could reach Kabataş by light metro in less than 10 minutes, where you can catch the free shuttle service provided by Bilgi that takes you to the Santral Campus.

NB. Kabataş is the last stop on the T1 red line, “S” -along the T1 way- indicates Sultanhamet stop.

Transportation: Besides the buses and other public transport, the Santral Istanbul Campus is accessible by the University’s free shuttle service, which connects the university to the city starting from Kabataş.
For the Bilgi shuttle buses Timetable (Kabataş – Santral Campus -Kabataş)

You may find useful the official Istanbul transport map here

Tutorship: Lea Nocera will support students’ participation. Please write to for any question you may have.




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