Book Talk: Working Out Desire: Women, Sport, and Self-Making in Istanbul

jale karabekir's picture
May 21, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Middle East History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies, Sport History / Studies



Book Talk: Working Out Desire: Women, Sport, and Self-Making in Istanbul


Speaker: Dr. Sertaç Sehlikoğlu


Moderator: Şeyda Nur Yıldırım


Host: Kadir Has University, Istanbul


Time: Friday, May 21, 2021 at 8 pm Istanbul (GMT +3)

1 pm New York

6 pm London

7 pm Central European

Please register in advance for this meeting:


In this webinar, Dr. Sehlikoğlu will be discussing her recent book Working out Desire: Women, Sport, and Self-Making in Istanbul. The book traces Istanbulite women’s enthusiasm for exercise, or as they call it, spor merakı (interest in/curiosity about sports), which was pursued by one and a half million women during the years she conducted her field research. Sehlikoğlu explores this seemingly mundane activity as an interest in establishing a new self—one that attempts to escape from conventional feminine duties—and an investment in forming a more agentive and desiring self. Working Out Desire develops a multilayered analysis of how women use spor merakı to take themselves out of the domestic zone physically, emotionally, and also imaginatively and connects them to a global movement. 


Working out Desire presents the ways in which women’s changing habits, leisure, and self-formation in the Muslim world and the Middle East are connected to their agentive capacities to shift and transform their conditions and socio-cultural capabilities.


Dr. Sertaç Sehlikoğlu is a social anthropologist specialised in gender and subjectivity in the Middle East and Islamicate contexts. Her work often focuses on intangible aspects of human subjectivity that enable humans to change and transform social life. She has studied in Istanbul, Montreal, Toronto, and Cambridge before completing a research fellowship at Pembroke College, Cambridge.  Dr. Sehlikoğlu is the editor of the book, The Everyday Makings of Heteronormativity: Cross-Cultural Explorations of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality; the editor of three special issues, Everyday Intimacies of the Middle East, Why Revisit Intimacy?, and Fieldsights - Field Notes on Sports; and the author of two books, Kişilik Özelliklerine Göre Çocuk Eğitimi (Education and Children’s Personality Trait) and Working Out Desire: Women, Sport, and Self-Making in Istanbul as well as several articles. She is currently leading an ERC project titled “Imaginative Landscapes of Islamist Politics Across the Balkan-to-Bengal Complex, TAKHAYYUL” on imagination and politics as Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Global Prosperity at the University College London:


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