Regulating the family through religion

Secularism, Islam, and the politics of the family in contemporary Turkey

by HIKMET KOCAMANER

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Under Turkey's neoconservative government, the Directorate of Religious Affairs deploys state‐employed religious functionaries to provide Sunni Muslim citizens with advice and guidance on family life. By inculcating government‐sanctioned sensibilities and dispositions related to kinship, these Islamic authorities have become instrumental to extending state power into the domestic lives of the religious majority. This particular entwinement of religion with state power is no aberration. Indeed, the Turkish case reveals a contradiction that lies at the heart of secular governance: the continuing involvement of religion in the politics of the family despite the assumed separation of religion and politics. Secular states may appropriate religious discourses and authority in regulating intimacy and the family while aligning these with biopolitical rationalities, as well as with secular laws and expertise.