Adar, Sinem

Core areas

Nation-building and nationalism; citizenship and belonging; religion and ethnicity

Research Agenda

I am comparative historical sociologist with a substantive interest in politics and culture. More specifically, I am interested in understanding mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion, and their implications for co-existence and solidarity in ethnically and religiously diverse societies, especially, of the Middle East.

I am currently working on turning my dissertation into a book manuscript alongside with a new project on the variations of legal pluralism in the Middle East. These projects build on my interest in understanding mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion as essential to forming modes of political belonging during nation-building process. Adopting a Bourdieusian approach of uncovering the relationship between objective structures and subjective experiences of belonging, I pay special attention to two things. First are the institutional, or rather formal, mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion that foster modes of belonging. Second are perceptions of one’s position vis-à-vis others as these mechanisms contribute to (un)making of boundaries at multiple scales.

My book manuscript offers a unique comparative historical ethnography of perceptions of belonging adopted by Christian and Jewish urban inhabitants of Istanbul and Alexandria as they were excluded from the national spaces in Turkey and Egypt, respectively, between the 1920s and the 1970s. The book’s central contribution, the concept of precarious belonging, has to do with the ways mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion unequally distribute certainty in relations with the state as well as with fellow citizens. In a social space marked by such unequal distribution of certainty; hope, anxiety, and despair shape people’s perceptions of belonging.

My new research project on the variations of legal pluralism across the Middle East is a theoretical intervention to re-conceptualize legal pluralism, especially as implemented in family matters, as an institutional mechanism of fostering modes of belonging at the intersection of nation-building and patriarchy in Turkey, Egypt, Israel and Lebanon.


I have earned my PhD in Sociology from Brown University in 2014. Before joining Lichtenberg-Kolleg, I was one of the Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholars in the Sociology Department at the University of South Florida.

Recent Academic Publications