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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Banu Senay is a social anthropologist. She received her PhD in Anthropology from Macquarie University in 2010. Over the past two decades, her work has contributed to the fields of political anthropology,  Turkish studies, diasporas, and anthropology of Islam and Muslim practices. The investigation of the complex links between state-driven projects of modernity and citizens' everyday practices has been a central feature of Dr Senay's research. 

Based on two-years of field research in Australia and Europe, her first book Beyond Turkey's Borders: Long-Distance Kemalism, State Politics and the Turkish State (2013) examines the intimate relationship between the political and religious fields of state-sponsored transnationalism, and how the Turkish State seeks to make Islam (as it does in Turkey) into an instrument legitimising its nationalist enterprises beyond its national borders. 

Her second monograph, Musical Ethics and Islam (2020), circles around questions about religion and ethics, engaging with important debates in anthropology around skilled learning, pedagogy, and Muslim subjectivity, specifically in relation to Sufi Islam and to one of its most significant dimensions, music. Grounded in phenomenological theory and appreticeship-based fieldwork methodology in the city of Istanbul, this work offers an intimate account of art-based Muslim civil society groups in Turkey and the power of Islam-infused pedagogies to change selves. Her work in this area has been published by numerous journals, including  Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Third World Quarterly, Ethnomusicology Forum, European Journal of Cultural Studies, International Journal of Middle East Studies, and Contemporary Islam. 

In her current Australian Research Council-funded project, Dr Senay directs focus on the Islamic bureucratic organ of the Turkish state (Diyanet) through an exploration of the embodied Islamic practices that this institution runs in the educational and cultural domains. This is a collaborative study, which comparatively examines the state-sponsored religious fields in Turkey and Indonesia (this leg of the project is led by Professor Julian Millie). 

Before joining Macquarie University, Dr Senay held a three-year post-doctoral fellowship (MacArthur Fellowship) in Anthropology at the University of Melbourne. 

Research interests

  • Islamic bureucracies
  • Muslim civil society
  • Islamic arts and music
  • Ethics
  • Skilled learning, pedagogy, apprenticeship
  • Diasporic politics
  • Citizenship
  • Turkish studies
  • Middle East

External positions

Post-doctoral Fellow, The University of Melbourne


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