EUME Berliner Seminar
Wed 20 Nov 2019 | 17:00–18:30

The Politics of Alcohol, Temperance and Prohibition in the Late Ottoman Empire and Turkey

Elife Bicer-Deveci (EUME Fellow of the Swiss National Fund 2019/20), Chair: Burak Onaran (EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation 2019-20)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

The talk addresses the issue of the ‘alcohol problem’ in Turkey in the long 20th century. The research question behind the project is: How have discourses on the ‘alcohol problem’ and regulations of alcohol trade and consumption in Turkey changed since 1900, in particular, how have they been influenced by Turkey’s relationship with Europe and the US? Elife Biçer-Deveci explores scientific debates on alcohol, regulation of alcohol consumption and trade by the state, and the role of non-governmental organisations in the process of secularisation. The basic assumption is that the contemporary implementation of Islamic prohibition is a result of exchange with Western culture.The temperance movements in Europe and the USA have influenced the debates on alcohol in Turkey and have helped to detach and secularise the discourses on the ban on alcohol from Islamic doctrine. Prohibitionist ideas originating in the West were adopted in secularized form by Islamic groups.

This led to the current prohibition policy pursued in Muslim countries and to Turkey's current restrictive alcohol policy. Using Turkey as a case study offers insights into a part of the Muslim world that is closely related to Europe as well as to the Muslim countries.

Elife Biçer-Deveci is a postdoctoral fellow of the Postdoc Mobility Grants of Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) affiliated with EUME in the academic year 2019/20. She is a Historian and completed her PhD at the Historical Institute of the University of Bern. At the University of Zürich, Biçer-Deveci studied History, Geography and Philosophy. She is author of several academic articles on the women’s movement in Istanbul in the early 20th century and of the monograph Die osmanisch-türkische Frauenbewegung im Kontext internationaler Frauenorganisationen (2017) based on her PhD project. Her current project is on alcohol regulation policies in Turkey in the long 20th century in the frame of international relations. Before the fellowship at EUME, Biçer-Deveci spent research stays for her projects at St. Antony’s College in Oxford (September 2017- February 2019), at the University of Tehran (August-September 2018), and at the Central European University in Budapest (March-August 2014) with Mobility Grants of the SNSF.

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