Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Ceren Kulkul

Ceren Kulkul

BGSS Generation 2017



Social construction of religious belief and transnational identities in the urban grid: an ethnographic case study of Turkish Muslim women in Berlin, Germany



Prof. Dr. Talja Blokland



In Europe, taken the huge numbers of immigrants and refugees from Muslim world, Islam is treated as a uniformed set of values and rules which are incongruent with Western secular codes of culture. However if Islam is taken for granted as a single predefined way of worship or as a prevailing manifestation of religious symbols, analyses on Muslim communities will be bound to generic inferences. Whereas, today it is necessary to have new tools to better understand the heterogeneity among religious people and one of the ways of doing this may be looking into the differences in religious practices and accommodating them with other fields of everyday social life. This dissertation project aims to conceptualize religious observance and moral religiosity in the case of a transnational social group by asking the question of how these two different ways of believing affect social networking, use of city, and access to resources, daily routines and social roles. Focusing on the second and third cohorts of Turkish Muslim women in Berlin, the research differentiate religious belief as an instrument, as a practice, as a way of constructing community, as culture, as a set of moral codes and as spirituality. The sample consists of women with migration background who identify themselves Turkish and Muslim. The age range is intentionally wide -between 21 and 66- because differences among cohorts influence the analysis and give more comprehensive perspective. There are two groups within the sample. First group who regularly practice religion and relate their way of life dedicated to Islamic norms, codes, discourses and are predominantly socialized into Islam, is identified as religious observant. This group sees religion as an instrument to social networking, community building, and access to resources and so on. The second group, on the other hand, is composed of women who identify themselves Muslims but rather in a moral and spiritual way. This group does not practice religion outside and sees religion as a personal matter. They do not understand religion as a tool for social life; but rather it is morally effective and includes customs and culture that they desire to hold on to. However, there is a difference in seeing religion as a cultural asset among these two groups. Comparing them in terms of their similarities and differences will answer various questions regarding faith, trans-locality, diaspora, gender and urban social life.


Recent Publications

Kulkul, C. (2020). Public Space and Social Polarization. A case study of the New Wave Turkish Migrants with a comparative analysis of Berlin, İstanbul & Ankara, The Journal of Public Space, 5(1), 111-128.

Ergun, A. and Kulkul, C. (2018). Defining semi-public space: a case study in the gated communities of Yaşamkent, Ankara, Turkish Studies, 20(5), 776-793.



Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences



Volunteer as a ‘Peace Envoy’ in Peacemakers Project – funded by Erasmus+
(Partners: Koç University, Universidade Aberta, University of Bologna, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Gaziantep University, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.