From Religious Empires to Secular States: State Secularization in Turkey, Iran, and Russia, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

From Religious Empires to Secular States

State Secularization in Turkey, Iran, and Russia, 1st Edition

By Birol Başkan


202 pages

Look Inside
Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138696396
pub: 2016-05-31
SAVE ~$9.39
Hardback: 9780415743518
pub: 2014-04-01
SAVE ~$32.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315813608
pub: 2014-03-26
from $23.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


In the 1920s and the 1930s, Turkey, Iran and Russia vehemently pursued state-secularizing reforms, but adopted different strategies in doing so. But why do states follow different secularizing strategies? The literature has already shattered the illusion that secularization of the state has been a unilinear, homogeneous and universal process, and has convincingly shown that secularization of the state has unfolded along different paths. Much, however, remains to be uncovered.

This book provides an in-depth comparative historical analysis of state secularization in three major Eurasian countries: Turkey, Iran and Russia. To capture the aforementioned variation in state secularization across three countries that have been hitherto analyzed as separate studies, Birol Başkan adopts three modes of state secularization: accommodationism, separationism and eradicationism. Focusing thematically on the changing relations between the state and religious institutions, Başkan brings together a host of factors, historical, strategic and structural, to account for why Turkey adopted accommodationism, Iran separationism and Russia eradicationism. In doing so, he expertly demonstrates that each secularization strategy was a rational response to the strategic context the reformers found themselves in.


"Birol Baskan makes a major and innovative contribution to the study of secularization. His comparison of one Christian (the USSR) and two Muslim (Turkey and Iran) countries is buttressed by deep and insightful historical research to provide empirical and analytic leverage for his penetrating insights on the paths to, and ultimate limitations of, state-directed secularization. This book will become essential reading for scholars of the three countries and for sociologists who study politics and religion." — Richard W. Lachmann, University at Albany

"Theoretically refined and empirically rich, this book examines the intersection of religion, politics, Islam, and secularism from an innovative standpoint. The author separates the concepts of state, liberalism, and secularism and then creatively re-assembles them. For secularism, the key in this re-assemble is the state-building process: secularism is not so much driven by ideological commitment but material needs for survival in an uncertain domestic and international environment. Offering empirically rich histories, the author builds a clear typology of paths for state secularization—accommodationist (Turkey), separationist (Iran), and eradicationist (Russia) to explain differences in the state secularization. This book will be an essential reading for political scientists, historians, areas studies specialists, and comparative sociologist who are interested in religion and politics." — Turan Kayaoglu, University of Washington, Tacoma

"Birol Baskan’s From Religious Empires to Secular States, accomplishes the aim of contributing substantially to the social sciences. He provides a thorough and critical review of the current literature on secularization. The book is well-argued and presents challenges relating to the development of the discipline categorical grid. Finally, it offers the original set of theoretical categories, which are highly applicable to intersubjective empirical studies on relationship between states and religion… it is strongly recommendable to scholars interested in state secularization processes." — Joanna Rak, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Secular State and Its Three Types. 2. Mobilizing Sheikhs and Ulama: Religion and the Ottoman Empire. 3. Accommodationist State Secularization in Republican Turkey. 4. Appeasing the Ulama: Religion and the State in Iran. 5. Separationist State Secularization in Pahlavi Iran. 6 Taming the Church: Religion and the Russian Empire. 7. Eradicationist State Secularization in Soviet Union. 8. Conclusion: The Fates of Three Models of Secular States.

About the Author

Birol Baskan is an assistant professor of government at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He holds a PhD in political science from Northwestern University. His research looks at state-regime-religion relations in the Middle East.

About the Series

Conceptualising Comparative Politics

Advisory Board: Colin Hay (University of Sheffield), Courtney Jung (University of Toronto), Todd Landman (University of Essex), Mark Lichbach (University of Maryland), Shinasi Rama (New York University), Vivien Schmidt (Boston University), Till Förster (University of Basel), Zheng Yongnian (East Asia Institute/National University of Singapore)

Conceptualising Comparative Politics: People, Polities, and Markets seeks to bring a distinctive approach to comparative politics by rediscovering the discipline’s rich conceptual tradition and inter-disciplinary foundations. It aims to fill out the conceptual framework on which the rest of the subfield draws but to which books only sporadically contribute, and to complement theoretical and conceptual analysis by applying it to deeply explored case studies. The series publishes books that make serious inquiry into fundamental concepts in comparative politics (crisis, legitimacy, credibility, representation, institutions, civil society, reconciliation) through theoretically engaging and empirical deep analysis.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / State & Provincial
RELIGION / Religion, Politics & State