Seçil Daǧtaș

Associate Professor | Associate Chair, Graduate Studies

Secil Dagtas Profile Picture
Office:  PAS 2019

Phone: 519-888-4567 x42991



Seçil Daǧtaș obtained her PhD in 2014 from the Department of Anthropology and the Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto, following her MA at York University and her BA at Bogazici University, Istanbul. She has held residential fellowships at the Collegium de Lyon (2017-2018) and the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study (2020-2021) and is a Connaught (2007-2009) and Vanier scholar (2009-2012). She is also a research fellow in the Migration, Mobilities, and Social Politics Cluster at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

A political anthropologist, Seçil Daǧtaș specializes in the gender politics and secular governance of religious diversity, minority and refugee displacement, religious nationalisms, and the political potential of everyday sociality at the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East. Her current work examines the intersections of religion and gender in shaping border politics in Turkey, and probes the political possibilities and limits of solidarity as the condition of urban cohabitation between a diverse group of displaced Syrians and Turkish citizens. She is particularly interested in how gendered social spaces along the Turkish-Syrian border call into question humanitarian and state-centered approaches to refugee resettlement, and expand our understandings of what constitutes politics beyond formal political institutions and mechanisms.

At UW, Seçil Daǧtaș teaches courses on the anthropology of gender, anthropology of religion, Muslim lives and practices, and the relationship between state borders and sociocultural boundaries. She supervises graduate work in the areas of nationalism, secularism, border politics, everyday Islam, and the cultural politics of displacement.

Research Projects and Awards

  • 2021-2025. (CI) “Border Frictions: Shaping Transnational Relations via Migrant Journeys, Resettlement and Community Building in the Context of Syrian Displacement.” The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Insight Grant with Suzan Ilcan (PI, University of Waterloo). 
  • 2018-2023  (PI and sole investigator) “Religious Assemblages: An Ethnographic Study of Refugee- Minority Relations along the Turkish Syrian Border, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Insight Development Grant.
  • 2018-2020  (PI) “The Politics of Displacement, Identity and Urban Citizenship in Migratory Contexts,” Regional Studies Association Research Network Grant.
  • 2017-18 (Fellow) UNESCO Chair “Memory, Cultures, and Interculturality” Lyon Catholic University, France.
  • 2016  (Co-PI) “Migratory Experiences: Negotiating Policy Effects”, UW International Research Partnership Grant, with Suzan Ilcan (PI, University of Waterloo).
  • 2015  “Beyond Tolerance: Re/Presenting Religious Difference in the Case of the Antakya Choir of Civilizations” Sakip Sabanci International Research Award, Sabanci University, Turkey.
  • 2015  (PI) “Secularism Reconsidered? Negotiating Religious Boundaries at the Turkish-Syrian Border,” UW/Robert Harding Humanities and Social Sciences Endowment Award, University of Waterloo

Potential areas of supervision

  • Gender politics
  • Islamic practices
  • Cultural and religious diversity
  • Secularism
  • Border studies
  • Nationalism
  • Anthropology of Turkey and the Middle East


Refereed Journal Articles

2021 - “Distant Toleration”: The Politics of Solidarity Work among Turkish and Syrian Women in Southern TurkeySocial Politics (Social Politics : International Studies in Gender, State & Society), with Sule Can.

2020 - The Civilizations Choir of Antakya: The Politics of Religious Tolerance and Minority Representation at the National Margins of Turkey. Cultural Anthropology 35(1): 167—195.

2019 - Diary or Notebook: Secular Morality and the Gendered Ambiguities of Legal Personhood in an Istanbul Family Courthouse, Anthropological Quarterly 92(4): 1201-1227.

2018 - Nationalism, Displacement, and Ethnoreligious Differentiation in Turkey's Southern Borderlands, Dialectical Anthropology 42(4): 359—372.

2018 - Inhabiting Difference across Religion and Gender: Displaced Syrian Women’s Experiences, Refuge 34(1): 50—59.

2017 - Whose misafirs? Negotiating Difference along the Turkish-Syrian Border, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 49(4):661-679.

2016 - “Down with Some Things!”: Humour as Politics and Politics of Humour in Turkey’s Gezi Protest, Etnofoor, 28(1):11-34

2016 - “The Personal in the Collective: Rethinking the Secular Subject in Relation to the Military, Wifehood, and Islam in Turkey,” Feminist Studies 42(1): 70-97.

2011 - “Army Boots at Home”: Accounts of Love, Sacrifice and Nationalism among Turkish Military Wives, Kıbrıs Yazıları, 13: 259-282.

2009 - Bodily Transgression: Conflicting Spaces and Gendered Boundaries of Modernity in Contemporary Turkey. Special Issue on “Religion, Identity and Minorities in the Middle East: Strategies and Developments”, Anthropology of the Middle East, 4(2): 1-13.

2005 - [in Turkish] Akdeniz’in ‘Öteki’ Kıyısı: AkSF’nin Düşündürdükleri (The ‘Other’ Coast of the Mediterranean: Notes on the Mediteranean Social Forum) Birikim 197:37-43.

Book Chapters

2019 - Political Humor in the Face of Neoliberal Authoritarianism in Turkey . In Julie Webber ed. The Joke is on Us: Political Comedy in (Late) Neoliberal Times, New York: Rowman and Littlefield Pp. 105—129:

2012 - Tolerated Identities: Secularism, Religious Pluralism and Nationalism in Antakya, Turkey. In Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity: Critical Cases. Eds. Scott H. Boyd and Marry Ann Walter. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing Pp. 122-135.

Book Reviews

2019 - Joan Scott. Sex and Secularism. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 15(3): 392-394.

2016 - Adam Becker. Revival and Awakening: American Evangelical Missionaries and the Origins of Assyrian Nationalism. AnthroCyBib

2006 - Cynthia Enloe. The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 8(1): 299-300.

Commentary & Conference Proceedings

2013 - [Editor Reviewed Commentary] The Politics of Humor and Humor as Politics during Turkey’s Gezi Park Protests, Cultural Anthropology, Hotspots Special Issue titled, “An Impromptu Uprising: Ethnographic Reflections on the Gezi Park Protests in Turkey.

2006 - [Conference Proceeding] En-Gendering the Exception: State Power and the Politics of Gender in Turkey, in Colleen Bell and Tina Managhan (eds.) Exceptional Measures for Exceptional Times: The State of Security Post 9/11: Selected Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Conference for International and Security Studies, pp.147-160. Toronto: York Center for International and Security Studies, York University.