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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
Osman Balkan

Osman Balkan is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science and has taught at Swarthmore since 2016. 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 with a transregional focus on 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 and Transformative Racial Justice initiatives. He has also taught in the Tri-Co Philly Program and together with students in his Borders & Migration seminar, created the Swarthmore Migration Stories project, which chronicles the diversity of migrant experiences. 

Balkan's first book, Dying Abroad: The Political Afterlives of Migration in Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2023) 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 Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East,  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 Program Coordinator of the Mellon Mays Fellowship and serves as a faculty mentor in the Richard Rubin Scholar Mentoring Program.  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 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." 

Outside of Swarthmore, Balkan is an elected member of 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 serves as an editorial board member of the journals International Political Sociology and Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism

For more information, please consult his personal website at


COURSES Taught (Click for descriptions)