Prof. Dr. h.c. Nilüfer Göle


Nilüfer Göle earned her first degree in sociology in 1974 at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. Until 1987, she studied at the Université de Paris in France. In 1982, she completed her Ph.D. in sociology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in the French capital.

After returning to Turkey, she was Professor at the Bosporus University from 1986 until 2001. She then went back to France, where she has been Head of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociale in Paris ever since. Apart from her scholarly work in Turkey and France, she was also a Visiting Professor at various universities in the United States, for example at the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, or the New School for Social Reserach in New York. In addition, she worked at the Bellagio Study Center in Italy and at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Nilüfer Göle’s doctoral thesis was supervised by the sociologist Alain Touraine.

Göle’s research has always been focused on the cultural perspectives and issues of identity. In her work „The Forbidden Modern: Civilization and Veiling“ published in 1996, Nilüfer Göle holds the opinion that in the modern Turkish world it is attempted to unite local and foreign cultures and identities to form a national identity. To her as a sociologist, Islam is not only a political movement, but also conveys cultural practices and ways of living that are opposed to homogenization through the modern world. In the course of secularization, headscarfs and veiling have been banned at Turkish universities and in public institutions. Nilüfer Göle speaks out in favor of wearing headscarfs in public institutions, because she thinks that wearing a headscarf plays an important role in the socialization of women of the middle and lower classes in urban areas. At the same time, she criticizes the Turkish culture and the Islamic practices, since both movements use the debate on veiling and wearing headscarfs for their own purposes and try to influence women in different ways. Nilüfer Göle also criticizes the broad definition of the term „modernism.“ In her opinion, the Western world places too much emphasis on the universality of societies and ignores local values and cultures too much.

Apart from her professorship, Nilüfer Göle serves on many other bodies and committees. She is a member of the Science Council of the Institut de Recherche et d’Études Méditerranée Moyen-Orient in Paris and the Institut du Bosphore in the French capital and in Istanbul. In addition, she sits on the Administrative Board of the Aladdin Project of the Multifaceted Cultural Initiative Aiming at Building Bridges of Knowledge Between Jews and Muslims in Paris as well as on the Science Council of the Comparative Secularisms Project conducted by Turkey, India and the United States of America.