David Shankland
Stadt Wien ifk_Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2023 bis 31. January 2024

Fluidity and Transformation in the Alevi Movement in Austria


The aim of this research project is to examine the reformulation of Turkish Alevi religious practice in Austria in light of the politics of recognition. Seeking such recognition from the state forces an explicit assessment of fundamental characteristics of Alevi religious practice such as its relationship with Islam, with Turkey, with Shi’ism, and with the contemporary world. This in turn can lead to contested assessments of the appropriate path forward for the Alevis. In effect, therefore we are witnessing the emergence of a number of distinct factions within the community that illustrate novel interpretations of appropriate religious practice. Yet, at the same time, there is a fundamental dilemma that all these movements have to face: how is it possible to teach in Austria a religious tradition that has taken shape over centuries in Anatolia in a way that is convincing to generations of students who do not know its origins?


David Shankland is Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute and Honorary Professor (Anthropology) at University College London. He trained in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh before moving to Cambridge University to work with Ernest Gellner for his doctoral research. This focused on rural Turkey, resulting in the long-term study of social change and migration amongst the Alevi community, work he has continued as a Humboldt Fellow tenured at the University of Bamberg. Parallel to this empirical work, Shankland has also extensively researched the modern history and philosophy of anthropology, particularly the period from about 1890 to 1950, when distinct disciplinary boundaries began to emerge. This has yielded a number of studies on particular figures in the field, including E. Westermarck, J. L. Myers, F. Hasluck and his wife M. Hasluck, and E. Evans-Pritchard, as well as more recent scholars such as Ernest Gellner, Paul Stirling, and Karl Popper.


with David Barchard, Turkey. A Very Short Introduction, Oxford (in preparation); »Evans-Pritchard and Marett: or How E-P Found a Job«, in: Andre Singer (Hrsg.), A Touch of Genius. The Life, Work, and Influence of E. Evans-Pritchard, 2023; »Segmentary Lineage Systems Re(re)considered. The Example of the Alevis of Anatolia«, in: A. Singer (Hrsg.), A Touch of Genius. The Life, Work, and Influence of E. Evans-Pritchard, 2023.


Mit freundlicher Unterstützung der

Mit freundlicher Unterstützung




Ein alevitisches Dorf und seine Beziehungen nach Europa

Der Sozialanthropologe und ifk Stadt Wien Fellow David Shankland präsentiert am 18. Jänner 2024 um 16 Uhr im Rahmen einer ISA – International Guest Lecture an der ÖAW eine Langzeitstudie über ein alevitisches Dorf sowie jene Bewohner:innen, die nach Österreich oder Deutschland gezogen sind und diskutiert seinen methodischen Zugang in einem größeren Kontext. www.oeaw.ac.at

08 January 2024
  • Lecture
ifk & ifk@Zoom
David Shankland

The Origins and Establishment of the Alevi Turkish Community in Europe

This lecture outlines a number of parameters to illustrate the way that the Alevi Turkish community has become established in Europe from its origins in the 1960s until today, with a particular emphasis on Germany and Austria.