Karen Barkey

Haas Distinguished Chair

Karen Barkey is faculty in Sociology with expertise in Comparative Historical Sociology, Political Sociology and Religion. Her main area of interest at this stage is in issues of coexistence and diversity in imperial settings as models for contemporary discussions. Her main project is on Shared Sacred Sites.

Shared Sacred Sites is a collaborative project that seeks to develop a rubric for the description, classification, analysis, and publication of work relating to spaces and locations used by multiple, disparate communities for religious purposes. The project is composed of several sub-projects that individually address different and particular difficulties in the study of shared sacred sites and that combine to form an important, updated, and modern survey of the unique features, mechanisms, and adaptations of coexistence found in the communities involved with shared sacred sites.

The edited book, Choreography of Sacred Spaces: State, Religion and Conflict Resolution (with Elazar Barkan), explores the history of shared religious spaces in the Balkans, Anatolia, and Palestine/Israel, all three regions once under Ottoman rule. The project provides the historical antecedents to help us understand the accommodation and contention around specific sites in the modern period, tracing comparatively areas and regime changes.

Karen Barkey's research now centers on Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries in Istanbul that continue to be shared by Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Barkey is conducting ethnographic research in these spaces and working on a book manuscript about the continuity in sharing in the Ottoman and Republican Turkish governments. 

Another important part of the research is conducted with Dimitris C. Papadopoulos and Nathanael Shelley. "Visual Hasluck" is a digital humanities (DH) sub-project carried out as part of the “Shared Sacred Sites and the Politics of Pluralism” project generously supported by the Luce Foundation. The “Shared Sacred Sites” project explores the politics of sharing and tolerance in and around religious sites in historical perspective focusing on regions of the former Ottoman Empire. "Visual Hasluck" will develop an interactive version of Christianity and Islam under the Sultans, a milestone work by antiquarian and archaeologist F.W. Hasluck’s (edited and published in 1929 by his wife Margaret), and publish it as an open and expandable online resource for the spatial history of sacred sites and religious monuments in the (post-)Ottoman world.

More information can be found on KarenBarkey.com.