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Osman Balkan

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science


  2. Phone: (610) 690-3546
  3. Trotter Hall 312
  4. Office Hours: By appointment only, remote
Osman Balkan

Osman Balkan is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science. He received his B.A. from Reed College and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania with concentrations in comparative politics and political theory. Balkan's research and teaching focuses on global migration, borders, race and ethnicity, identity and inequality, and the politics of memory. His classes contribute to Swarthmore's  Global Studies,  Islamic Studies and Interpretation Theory programs and to the college's Engaged Scholarship and Transformative Racial Justice initiatives. He also teaches in the Tri-Co Philly Program.

Balkan's first book manuscript, Dying Abroad: The Political Afterlives of Migration in Europe (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press) examines how minoritized communities navigate end-of-life decisions in countries where they face structural barriers to political inclusion and equal social standing. Building on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Berlin and Istanbul, Dying Abroad illustrates how the seemingly quotidian practices surrounding the death, burial, and repatriation of racial and religious minorities are structured by deeper political questions about the meaning of citizenship, home, and belonging in an increasingly transnational world. 

Balkan's current research focuses on the cultural politics of memory. He is especially interested in how countries commemorate and come to terms with acts of political violence and state terrorism. His work has been published in Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Theory & Event, Project on Middle East Political Science, Journal of Intercultural StudiesContemporary French Civilization and also appears in edited volumes such as Muslims in the UK and Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2015) The Democratic Arts of Mourning: Political Theory and Loss (Lexington Press, 2019) and Turkey's Necropolitical Laboratory: Democracy, Violence, Resistance (Edinburgh University Press, 2019).  Click here to access his publications.

At Swarthmore, Balkan is a faculty mentor in the Richard Rubin Scholar Mentoring Program and serves on the advisory committee for the Mellon Mays Fellowship. Both programs offer extensive support to underrepresented students in an effort to alleviate structural barriers to educational access. Balkan is the campus advisor for the U.S. State Department's Critical Languages Scholarship. He is founder of the Tri-College Global Ethnographies Workshop and a lead faculty participant in Swarthmore's Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary program, a partnership with the city of Philadelphia and recently resettled Syrian and Iraqi nationals. He has organized numerous lectures on themes such as Contending Visions of the Middle East, Culture and Identity in Europe, Borders, Migration, and Human Rights, and Global Mobilities. 

Outside of Swarthmore, Balkan serves on the executive council of the American Political Science Association's Migration and Citizenship section and is co-founder, with Tani Sebro, of APSA's Political Ethnography Working Group. He is an editorial board member of the journals International Political Sociology and Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism. Balkan has held faculty positions at Cornell University as well as the Lauder Institute for Management and International Studies and The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, both at the University of Pennsylvania. 

For more information, please consult his personal website at


COURSES Taught (Click for descriptions)