Body Politics and the Margins of Life: The Secular/Religious Tensions

Prof. Dr. Gökçe Yurdakul

Student Assistant: Gala Rexer

Duration:                                      SoSe 2015

Contact hours per week:       4 hours, bi-weekly

Time:                                              Thursday 10:00- 14:00

Place:                                             Universitätstr. 3b,  R. 004

This seminar is concerned with how conflicts between religion and secularity (i.e., secular and religious discourses, norms, actors, and institutions) are shaped differently in differing socio-legal contexts in the Middle East, Europe and North America. Specifically, we will examine the way religion and secularity shape disputes and are shaped by disputes over “body politics” and “the margins of life”.  We will explore the secular laws and religious disputes governing what is permissible to do to the body and who has the authority to decide (The Church, the mother, the public, the individual etc.)  We will focus on current legal and social controversies that have erupted around the practices of male circumcision, posthumous organ donation, abortion, technologies of birth and death with dignity (assisted suicide).

WEEK 1 (16.04.2015)

Introduction to the details of this course


WEEK 2 (30.04.2015)

Hirschkind, Charles (2011): Is there a secular body? In: Cultural Anthropology, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp. 633–647

Asad, Talal (204): Thinking about the secular body, pain, and liberation politics. In: Cultural Anthropology, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp. 657–675


WEEK 3 (13.05.2015)

Muslim Women’s Body

Korteweg, Anna C. / Yurdakul, Gökce (2014): The Headscarf Debates: Conflicts of National Belonging. Stanford: Stanford University Press. (whole book)


WEEK 4 (28.05.2015)

Patriarchy, Power and Violence

Guest Lecture by PhD student Sakar Sabir 

Aisha K. Gill, Nazand Begikhani, Gill Hague (2012): ‘Honour’-based violence in Kurdish Communities. In: Women’s Studies International Forum, Volume 35, Issue 2, March–April 2012, Pages 75-85.

Mojab, Shahrazad (2003): Kurdish Women in the Zone of Genocide and Gendercide. In: AL-Raida Volume XXI, No.1 03, Fall 2003

Mojab, Shahrazad (2000): Vengeance and Violence: Kurdish Women Recount the War. In:  CANADLAN WOMAN STUDlES LES CAHlERS DE LA FEMME. VOLUME 19, NUMBER 4

Hardi, Choman (2013): Women’s Activism in Iraqi Kurdistan: Achievements, Short comings, and Obstacles. In: Kurdish Studies, Volume: 1, No: 1, pp. 44 64 October 2013


WEEK 5 (11.06.2015)

Gender and Women’s Rights

Gross, M. L. (2002). “Abortion and neonaticide: ethics, practice, and policy in four nations.” Bioethics 16(3): pp. 202-230

Reitz, D. and G. Richter (2010). “Current Changes in German Abortion Law.” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 19(3): pp. 334-343

Pinter, B., et al. (2005). “Accessibility and availability of abortion in six European countries.” Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care 10(1): pp.  51-58.

Badamchi, D. K. (2014). “Abortion and Public Reason in Turkey: A Normative Evaluation of the Discourses of AKP and CHP.” Turkish Studies 15(1), pp. 45-61


WEEK 6 (24.06.2015)

Men’s Bodies


Yurdakul, Gökce (2015) Secularism, Religion, Diversity: The Contradictions of a European Identity

Judd, Robin (2007) Contested Rituals: Circumcision, Kosher Butchering, and Jewish Political Life in Germany, 1843-1933, pp. 1-21

Bijan Fateh-Moghadam, Criminalizing male circumcision? Case Note: Landgericht Cologne, Judgment of 7 May 2012 – No. 151 Ns 169/11, 13 German Law Journal 1131-1145 (2012)

Ciftci;, A. V. S. A. E. Y. D. U. H. (2002). “A Limited Study on the Perception and Change in Attitude about Circumcision among Health Care Professionals and Their Male Family Members.” Urol. Int. 69.


WEEK 7 (01.07.2015)


Najmabadi, Afsaneh (2013) Professing Selves: Transsexuality in Contemporary Iran