In this episode of Keyman podcasts, Élise Massicard talks about her research on muhtars, the neighborhood or village headmen in Turkey.

“Elise’s interest in muhtars in Turkey dates back to several years before President Erdoğan started to gather thousands of muhtars at his presidential palace, address them in person to acknowledge the importance of their position. Elise’s research problematizes the view of the Turkish state as a strong bureaucratic machine detached from society by showing the in-between status of muhtars as both small bureaucrats presiding over the neighborhood and as elected officials serving their constituents. Elise shows that this in-between status of complementing bureaucratic rationality with personal relationships is neither a deviation from the norm, nor a failure of modernization, but lies at the very center of the Turkish state tradition dating back to Ottoman times.”

“Élise Massicard is a faculty member and associate research fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research, Sciences Po. She works on comparative political sociology, mainly on Turkey. Her research focuses on relationships between space and politics, which she inquires through social movements, the sociology of institutions, state-society relations, and everyday politics. Thereby, she explores the autonomy of politics from other social fields. Through qualitative in-depth studies, she focuses on the analysis of actors, and the way they are entrenched spatially and socially, but also the circulations – including transnational.”