Aysegul Kayagil

Undergraduate Discipline


BS, Middle East Technical University, Turkey. MA, Koc University, Turkey. PhD, The New School for Social Research. Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), Sweden (2016-2017). Research interests include race, ethnicity, gender, Turkish nationalism, legacies of slavery in the Middle East and North Africa, and 19th-century Orientalist art. Published on semantics of racial and ethnic identifications in Turkey. Current research explores the erasure of the history of slavery under the Ottoman rule in light of its coexistence with racialized and gendered notions of the dominant ethno-national identity in Turkey, as well as in the larger Mediterranean basin. Recipient of grants and fellowships from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Swedish Institute, Turkish American Society and Turkish Fulbright Commission. SLC 2023–

Undergraduate Courses 2023-2024


Race and Slavery in the Middle East and North Africa

Open, Seminar—Fall

How do we imagine slavery in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)? How do we make sense of the histories of slavery in understanding race in the larger region today and its interconnections beyond geographical boundaries? While contemporary critical scholarship on transatlantic slavery provides a necessary corrective to colonial narratives, this course proposes to go further by bringing in voices, histories, and experiences from predominantly the Middle East and North Africa region. Drawing on a long sociohistorical arc inclusive of a wide range of localities such as Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Iran, this course offers an enriched understanding of constructions and legacies of slavery, as well as our conceptions of race as they play out in the current moment. The course is divided into three parts: Part I begins by establishing the theoretical and epistemological foundations of racial formation theory, as well as historiography. It will set the stage for an in-depth discussion on how theory informs our analyses of race and slavery in MENA. In Part II, we will develop an overview of race and the history of slavery in the region by examining racialized and gendered experiences, practices, and textual formation. Finally, in Part III, we will focus on case studies dealing with historical legacies and present-day practices of race in modern nation-states. Through an elaboration of myriad contemporary connections, the course will open up possibilities of generating more complex and nuanced historiographies that go beyond current understanding of such a phenomenon. For conference, students can look at cases both within and outside the region. Other possibilities for conference work include certain thematic areas such as language, gender, media constructions, use of religion, and contemporary politics.


Sociological Theory

Open, Lecture—Fall

By covering both “classical” and “contemporary” sociological theories, this course is designed to provide students with a well-rounded understanding of sociological thought and its evolution. The main objective of the course is to introduce theoretical perspectives within sociology and how those theories have shaped the boundaries of the discipline. We will begin by exploring the concept of “sociological imagination.” Building upon that preliminary understanding, we will examine certain core sociological concepts such as class, race, gender, culture, power, institutions, and identity. While recognizing the lasting impact of sociology’s pioneering theorists—Durkheim, Weber, and Marx—we will also explore approaches that critically engage and problematize aspects of the “canon.” Our examination extends to encompass contemporary perspectives, including feminist theory, postcolonial theory, and race critical theories. Incorporating these contemporary sociological approaches, we will gain multifaceted insights into the complex interplay between sociological constructs and broader societal contexts. As the course draws to a close, students are expected to leave with a deeper appreciation of the complexity of society and the expanded array of theories through which it can be examined. Group conferences will be centered on research on related topics of students’ interest, as well as engaging in creative group projects.