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Gendered Fortunes: Divination, Precarity, and Affect in Postsecular Turkey

Gendered Fortunes: Divination, Precarity, and Affect in Postsecular Turkey


Dr. Zeynep Korkman and Dr. Attiya Ahmad will discuss Dr. Korkman’s recent book Gendered Fortunes: Divination, Precarity, and Affect in Postsecular Turkey (Duke University Press, 2023).

In Gendered Fortunes, Zeynep K. Korkman examines Turkey’s commercial fortunetelling cafés where secular Muslim women and LGBTIQ individuals navigate the precarities of twenty-first-century life. Criminalized by long-standing secularist laws and disdained by contemporary Islamist government, fortunetelling cafés proliferate in part because they offer shelter from the conservative secularist, Islamist, neoliberal, and gender pressures of the public sphere. Korkman shows how fortunetelling is a form of affective labor through which its participants build intimate feminized publics in which they share and address their hopes and fears. Korkman uses feeling—which is how her interlocutors describe the divination process—as an analytic to view the shifting landscape of gendered vulnerability in Turkey. In so doing, Korkman foregrounds “feeling” as a feminist lens to explore how those who are pushed to the margins feel their way through oppressive landscapes to create new futures.


  • Zeynep Korkman is a feminist scholar whose research explores the gendered relationships between affect, labor, religion, and feminist politics, with a regional focus on Turkey and the broader Muslim Middle East. Her research agenda revolves around the affective labors and political genres through which women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals navigate globally inflected social formations such as heteropatriarchy, neoliberal capitalism, religiously accented authoritarianism, secularism, and anti-Muslim racism. This research agenda unfolds along two interconnected tracks. The first focuses on the gendered relationships between affect, labor, and religion. The second details the affective contents and discontents of transnational feminist politics.

  • Attiya Ahmad is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at The George Washington University (Washington DC, USA). Broadly conceived, her research focuses on the gendered interrelation of Islamic reform movements and political economic processes spanning the Middle East and South Asia, in particular, the greater Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean regions. Dr. Ahmad is currently working on a project focusing on the development of global halal tourism networks. She is the author of Everyday Conversions: Islam, Domestic Work, and South Asian Migrant Women in Kuwait (Duke Press, 2017), and is on the editorial boards of Feminist Studies and Anthropological Quarterly.