Skip to main content

Osman Balkan

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science


  2. Phone: (610) 690-3546
  3. Trotter Hall 312
  4. Office Hours: Remote  M 5:30-7:30 PM EST and by appointment
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. Balkan's research and teaching focuses on the politics of migration, identity, and citizenship in Western Europe and the Middle East. His classes contribute to Swarthmore's  Global Studies,  Islamic Studies and Interpretation Theory programs and to the college's Engaged Scholarship initiative.

Balkan's first book manuscript, Dying Abroad: The Political Afterlives of Migration in Europe, examines how immigrant communities navigate and make sense of death and dying in countries where they face structural barriers to political inclusion. Building on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Berlin and Istanbul, where he worked as an undertaker in several Islamic funeral homes, Dying Abroad shows how the corpse functions as a political object by structuring claims about citizenship, belonging, and collective identity. 

Balkan's current research focuses on border deaths and the politics of mourning. 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 (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 an active faculty mentor in the Richard Rubin Scholar Mentoring Program and serves on the advisory committee for the Mellon Mays Fellowship. He is also the campus advisor for the U.S. State Department's Critical Languages Scholarship. Balkan is co-founder, with Sofia Fenner (Bryn Mawr) of the Tri-College Global Ethnographies Workshop and a lead faculty participant in Swarthmore's Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary program. He has organized numerous lecture series on themes such as Contending Visions of the Middle East, Culture and Identity in Europe, Borders, Migration, and Human Rights, and Global Mobilities. 

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 International Political Sociology and Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism. Balkan has held faculty positions at 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)