Ideological Roots of Politics
A Kurdish woman taking off the burqa imposed by the Islamic State after escaping into the YPG-controlled area - pic by Shervan Derwish/Jack Shahine
and political figures collected during fieldwork in Iraq, the United States and Germany from 2016 to 2019, as well as a rich collection of original ideological documents. My key argument is that actors’ ideological frameworks are the critical explanatory factor. More specifically, ideologies exert their effects by informing which relations, institutions, and practices actors pursue and by mediating the impact of other dimensions of social life.
The project has been funded by Smith Richardson Foundation ISS Fellowship, DAAD Research Grant, and Yale MacMillan Center International Dissertation Fellowship. My dissertation has also been awarded the 2023 Marvin B. Sussman Dissertation Prize by the Yale Sociology Department. Drawing upon the dissertation data, I have published a peer-reviewed sole-authored article in the British Journal of Sociology, another peer-reviewed co-authored (first author) article in Globalizations, and a book chapter in Kurdish Autonomy and U.S. Foreign Policy.
My dissertation examines three state-building projects emerging out of the connected political crises in Syria and Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S. invasion and 2011 uprisings: Kurdistan-Syria, Kurdistan-Iraq, and the Islamic State. Despite rising to significance within the same time and space, these political formations pursue widely different projects: direct democracy, feminism, and anti-capitalist cooperatives in Kurdistan-Syria; representative democracy, patriarchal values, and neoliberal capitalism in Kurdistan-Iraq, and a fundamentalist religious and fascist system in the Islamic State. Starting from this simultaneous existence, I ask: why have such different formations emerged out of the same political crucible? To answer this question, I draw upon over 40 in-depth interviews with civilians
Capitalism, Imperialism, and Misinformation
Donald Trump mounts one of his countless attacks on the mainstream media with the accusations of fake news.
I am currently developing a quantitative project that seeks to understand patterns of media bias and misinformation in connection with capitalist and imperialist structures. Especially with the rise of social media and popularization of “fake news” by Trump, the topic of misinformation has become an important issue around the world. Public discussion and social scientific works on misinformation usually follow two unquestioned assumptions: that the mainstream media is largely objective/factual, and that the media outlets in liberal democratic settings are largely not propagandist in contrast to those in authoritarian settings. To problematize these assumptions, the project draws upon the critical media theories and poses two research questions: (1) Does the mainstream media in liberal democracies informs the public in an objective and factual manner? (2) Is there a significant difference between the media in "authoritarian" and "democratic" countries in terms of alignment with corporate and state power? In order to answer these questions, I utilize a mixture of computational text analysis and social network analysis.
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