Osman Balkan is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Swarthmore College. He received his B.A. from Reed College and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His research and teaching interests include the politics of migration and citizenship, transnationalism and diasporas, Islam and Muslims in the West, race and ethnicity, biopolitics, and necropolitics.
Balkan's research is situated at the intersection of comparative politics, political theory, and cultural anthropology. He employs ethnographic and qualitative methods to understand how politics is experienced and interpreted by ordinary citizens in their everyday lives. His doctoral dissertation Death on the Move: Repatriation, Burial, and the Politics of Belonging among Muslims in Germany examined the funerary practices and burial decisions of ethno-religious minorities in Germany. Building on multi-sited fieldwork in Berlin and Istanbul, which included interviews and participant observation with bereaved families, Muslim undertakers, government officials, religious leaders, and representatives of Islamic associations and funeral aid societies, it showed how the corpse functions as a political object by structuring claims about citizenship, belonging, and collective identity.
Balkan's current research explores how the governance of the dead is linked to the construction of the nation and the enactment of sovereign power. Understanding sovereignty as an effect of practices that target the body and adjudicate issues of life and death, it investigates how the constitution, consolidation, and territorialization of national and political communities is related to the management of dead bodies.
His work has been published in Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Journal of Intercultural Studies, Contemporary French Civilization, and Muslims in the UK and Europe, an edited volume from the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge. Click here to access his publications and CV.
At Swarthmore, Balkan is proud to serve as a faculty mentor for the Richard Rubin Scholar Mentoring Program. He is an active member of the campus community and has organized numerous public lectures, workshops, and events on a wide range of contemporary political issues. In the 2017 - 2018 academic year, he and Sofia Fenner (Bryn Mawr) are leading a Mellon Tri-College Faculty Workshop on "Global Ethnographies," aimed at fostering interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration among ethnographers and other qualitative researchers at Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford Colleges.