Leading Turkish sociologist Şerif Mardin dies at 90
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
Şerif Mardin, a well-known Turkish sociologist and political scientist, passed away aged 90 on Sept. 6 in Istanbul.
Mardin had been under treatment at a private hospital, according to Istanbul’s Şehir University, where Mardin was a Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities.
“We will always fondly remember Şerif Mardin, who has left behind an unparalleled legacy with his pioneering and breakthrough scientific studies in the areas of religion and modernization, civil society, ideology, and center-periphery relations in Turkey,” he university said in a statement.
Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş also issued a statement, saying “Mardin will forever be remembered with utmost respect” for his works and contributions to academic life.
Born in Istanbul in 1927, Mardin received his Bachelor’s degree in political science from the California-based Stanford University in 1948. He then went on to Johns Hopkins University for his graduate studies where he got his Master’s degree in international relations in 1950. He then went back to Stanford and got his PhD degree in political science in 1958.
Throughout his academic career, Mardin worked at Ankara, Bogaziçi and Sabancı universities in Turkey, and was also the chair of Islamic Studies at the American University in Washington for 10 years.
His works mostly deal with the modernization of Turkey, its socio-political transformation as well as politics and religion, mainly focusing on the late Ottoman and early republican period of Turkey.
His PhD dissertation titled “The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought” was published by Princeton University in 1962.
Mardin is also prominent for coining the term the “neighborhood pressure” (“mahalle baskısı” in Turkish) in Turkey, referring to the negative impact of neighborhood interactions over individual freedoms. Mardin used the term for the first time in an interview with a journalist in 2007, sparking a long-lasting debate, numerous publications, and panels.
In the interview, Mardin said a major threat to the nurturing of a liberal environment in Turkey was “neighborhood pressure ... which is a mood very hard to delineate by the social sciences.”
He is also well-known for his theory of Turkish political and social history based on the “center-periphery” dichotomy, which posits that the modernizing central authorities and the provincial periphery have historically been at odds.
Mardin will be laid to rest on Sept. 7 in Istanbul after afternoon prayers at Istanbul’s Yeniköy Mosque.