Erol Saglam

Erol Saglam is a social anthropologist working on reconfigurations of statecraft, its relation to the law, and the changing parameters of political subjectivity at the intersections of conspiracy theories, societal violence, and bureaucratic operations. Following his undergraduate and graduate studies at Bogazici University, Istanbul, Saglam earnt his Ph.D. degree in 2017 from Birkbeck, University of London with his anthropological research on nationalist communities of northeast Turkey. Following his doctoral studies, Saglam worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Stockholm University and is currently a lecturer at Istanbul Medeniyet University, Istanbul. 

Alongside his interest in political anthropology, Saglam engages in heritage preservation endeavours through his international collaborations.  One of these engagements pertain to the preservation strategies for Romeyka, an endangered Greek variety with archaic linguistic characteristics spoken by rural communities in northeast Turkey. Through his collaboration with an international team in Konya, Saglam focuses on unsanctioned diggings (treasure hunts) and explores how dwelling in/by archaeological remnants evoke alternative senses of place, memory, and identity.

Saglam’s publications dealt with everyday configurations of Islamic piety in the Turkish context, everyday dynamics that forge and maintain heteronormative masculinities, how Turkish public space accommodates socio-cultural distinctions in different modalities, and the challenges facing ethnographic methodology in contemporary world. His current research interests explore everyday politics by men, reconfigurations of the state and the law, and everyday bureaucracies.

  • Saglam, Erol. (2021) “Taking the Matters into Your Own Hands: Ethnographic Insights into Societal Violence and the Reconfigurations of the State in Contemporary Turkey.” Southeast European and Black Sea Studies. DOI: 10.1080/14683857.2021.1909293
  • Saglam, Erol. (2020) “What to Do with Conspiracies? Insights from Ethnographic Explorations of Nationalist Men in Contemporary Turkey.” Anthropology Today 36 (5).
  • Saglam, Erol. (2020). “We Have to Grasp How Conspiracy Theories Work.” OpenDemocracy, May 19.
  • Saglam, Erol. (2020). “Presumed Dead but Lived On: Treasures and Discreet Afterlives of Greek Heritage in Contemporary Turkey.” Allegra Lab, Thematic Thread: Afterlives.
  • Saglam, Erol. (2020). “Commutes, Coffeehouses, and Imaginations: An Exploration of Everyday Makings of Heteronormative Masculinities in Public.” In Everyday Makings of Heteronormativity: Cross-Cultural Explorations of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality, edited by S. Sehlikoglu and F. Kariokis. New York: Lexington, 45-62.
  • Saglam, Erol. (2019). “Bridging the Social with What Unfolds in the Psyche: The Psychosocial in Ethnographic Research.” In New Voices in Psychosocial Studies, edited by S. Frosh. London: Palgrave, 123-39.

Research Project 

States in Flux: Reconfigurations of Statecraft, Governance, and Citizenship in Contemporary Turkey 

Drawing on an ethnographic research project in Istanbul, Turkey, this ethnographic research reflects on the everyday makings and contestations of authoritarianization as well as their reverberations across statecraft, the law, and political subjectivities of bureaucrats. The project explores how ongoing authoritarianization cannot be reduced to a populist “hijacking” of institutions and how such institutions are not hollowed-out, unwillful vessels of authoritarian-populist control. On the contrary, research findings indicate that bureaucrats get more and more politically involved and deploy their professional expertise, documentary practices, and horizontal networks to contain the adverse effects of authoritarian destabilizations in governance and the law. Attending to the everyday laboring by bureaucrats to stabilize the law and governance, the research findings are to illustrate how bureaucrats fashion their agency and political subjectivity. Exploring how institutions display resilience in the face of authoritarian-populist onslaught, the proposed monograph is to offer insights into how the state and the (rule of) law are radically reconfigured in relation since the 2000s in the Turkish context, a phenomenon that resonates well across a wide geography including Poland, Philippines, Brazil, and the US.

All Publications from Erol Saglam: