LOST CRUSADE Thursday, Jun 19 2014 




‘Happily dead ever after,’

the dream of Innocence;

Till the passing

Of an unscrupulous Cavalier,

A Yazid on a black horse.

Fails to see the unseen corpse

Lying on the scorching sands,

desolate, ditched, deserted

He kick-starts her silent Pulse;

Galloping hard on her still chest

On his way to the land of Rose.


An architect, a mastermind

sculpted her malleable spirit.

Calculated each brushstroke

He caressed on her canvas.

Yet Unaware of the agony

The Blazes caused

While welding her carcass.


A sweet tongue, heavenly voice

Even envied by the Siren.

sow the seed of fake Hope

Into her deprived Garden.

As he whispered:

“My dear,” “My love,” “My angel”

“My soul mate, friend and teacher.”

He blew Life into her sunken lung

“You are so dear to me, child!”


Resurrected, resuscitated, restored,

She opened her teary eyes.



 The Precious One


Was she carried away by his Gnosis of mankind?

Fallen for his beautiful mind,

his unmatched wisdom?

Or was it base attraction, given his notorious charm?

Perhaps it was simply his mesmerizing voice

Echoed in the deep valley of her being?

Could it be lust or passion? Desire or obsession?

Perhaps she needed a shelter on his shoulder,

As she had died of hunger,

for a crumb of empathy.

Was she running away from her wrecked soul;

Turning her gaze away from her own misery?

What if she had entrapped him in her desolate sorrow,

While under quarantine from her own solitude?

Or was she just too impatient to wait for Godot;

hence too eager to be knowingly fooled?


Maybe all, maybe none!

All I know, the precious one,

It remained, after you were gone!

And it was here,

long before you had come.



Seven Doors


I was born as Zulaykha,

in love, longing, lure!

I had to find Joseph,

my Prince and my slave

my remedy and my ail.


I was buried already,

When he finally found me

With a letter in Persian

from Rumi.

He must be, indeed,

the son of Jacob,

as his noble name indicated!


I asked: “where you from?”

He said: “from the Mountain

Wherein reigned your Forefather”

In which he had been thrown

Into a deep dark Well

By his own Brethren,

Oh! ye half-wit, half-bred, Beware!

In God’s womb, he was secure

Till he was re-born as my Master

And your Nightmare.


He had the title of Healer,

the power to put together

my fallen pieces, to complete the puzzle

of my hollow spirit, to cure my temper.


As his dying patient,

I had to believe

in his peculiar treatment!

By God’s, and my own will, I did.

Stars witnessed! I believed!

Signed the consent he handed

as a precaution:

He was not to be blamed,

for the Potion

he would make me drink.


I fell under his spell at once,

Drank, smoked and danced.

The tart scent of his incense

Unveiled the Self’s mysteries.

Enchanted, enraptured, infatuated,

I got lost in his labyrinths.

The states of Real multiplied,

Truth distorted, Faith lost.


On the nights we were drunk,

He would neither touch me, nor hug

Rather, sang me all about

Man’s glamorous past

We visited Salahuddin, Timur and Kanuni;

exchanged our tears, fears and dreams

with Hallaj, Shams, Behzad and Jami.


As much as I tried to hide from Time

The Day would come

to snatch away from my weak arm

what I trusted to be mine.


Through the Seven Doors,

shutting on my face, one by one,

The Master of Dreams,

Kissed our unborn children,

and left my kingdom.






I was camouflaged with wet mud

in the jungle, we were to run amok,

“You could not afford to be a Woman”,

said he, while mudding my body,

“in this tyrant terrain of Treachery”


I sniffed the war-stricken soil of his soul.

As we rowed through the river of gore.

I dived into the depth of his wounds; explored.

Torment was mapped on his backbone,

Yet, he strived to spread nothing more,

than hope, courage, faith and valor!


How I wished I could lift his burden,

That he tried to hide from Sun.

Hereafter had to chase him,

as his Pride would run!


Ku’mars the first Man” I cried,

“let me drink with thou

Wine from the same cup,

let’s share the Apple

so that we can become One;

either in hell or heaven,

Alas, never on this wretched ground!





He built a Temple on the mountain,

out of my agnostic material.

Sanctifying it against my Will.

He took shelter on the Hill.


Had he known

he raised his own tomb,

as my polished walls shone

to mirror his fallen Throne?


We were never alone!

Prospect, present, past

Covertly followed us.

His Harem’s ghouls

Sneaked into my Marrows

Though he defended it

Against his own Nature,

The abode of convalescence,

His sacred cocoon,

Did not take long,

As my bones

crumpled down soon.





Eve was the heart, Adam the mind.

Heart was pure, but the mind fraud.

Poor Adam, whom was taught

All the names in universe,

Could never succumb,

As his arrogance barred.


Adam could not stay long

in tedious Eden.

No need to accuse his follower,

poor pure Eve!


After they tumbled down from the skies

Adam was nowhere to be found.

Not only had he created her

And took her downfall,

but also abandoned her

on dark drab dreary earth.


The Fire on Eve’s heart

was the only light

in the everlasting Night.

She never gave up, though,

Silently she wept and prayed,

lingering on Arafat;

Yet, Adam the self-seeker,

As self-righteous as he was,

took all the detours he could

till reaching his faithful Penelope.


As the earth was round, and the cycles his lot,

he doomed to come back to her Lodge.

Had it been abandoned by then,

Would he lament for the Missing,

God had granted him in the Beginning?


Word. Love. Friend.



June 2014



EVERGREEN Friday, Apr 25 2014 

It is hard to fake Being, my brave girl,

When hanging from the ceiling.  

As you still smile bitter,

attempting to implement

a last Hope

to his crippled Soul,

The bruised neck and the tight Rope

Gives you away, my friend.

You were indeed a Joy,

till betrayed by death,

Time to let go, my dear, let go.

You do not fall, I am afraid!

‘Tis not an April shower adorning the earth!

But an aloof autumn thunderstorm,

the last tears of the deciduous comrade.

Yet, my little Evergreen,

You are doomed to remain.


The Order of Nature Tuesday, Feb 4 2014 

 A charming Machiavelli

Winked at me

As I smiled, he butchered

my Deity.

the Shrine ruined.

Must be an accident

of such heavy artillery!


A blindfolded Knight

from the noble Chivalry

Was just performing

his swordsmanship

When he maimed my Baby,



An almighty Pharaoh


From the Nile valley

To Enslave the Bereaved

only to abandon her


Tying up on a rock naked

To a predator’s mercy.


“Oh”, said Your Honor!

“A callous Vulture

Cannot be blamed

For being forager”

“Obey, ye woman, Obey!

To the Order of Nature.”


Feyza/ Feb 2014/ Boston

MANA Tuesday, Feb 4 2014 

Why tarred the Sun,

And stole the stars

you endowed once?

Oh Mana,

What have I done?

Why have you gone?

And let the Devil

Reflect me in His mirror?


A snow Scarecrow

Intimidating none.

A wingless ice-angel

Can neither fly, nor run.

Trapped in torment

In a deserted desert

of scorching sand,

Hallucinating through

the shifting dunes of flame.


Alas, I loved thee

gave up my soul

you had given me.

No more Award nor Trial

Oh Mana; Let me expire

Thy Mercy demands you so.  


Feyza, Feb 2014, Boston

Reminiscence Monday, Feb 3 2014 

How many times, I forgot,

Stared at a blank page,

Scared by the White.  


Maybe a year and a half

Failed to spill the black blood

Clotted on my throat


Must be a while, I forgot,

Since I was frozen

Struck, still, stuck. 


Where was home, I forgot

Lost and found

Karbala, my new abode




Brandeis Women’s and Gender Studies Tuesday, Aug 6 2013 

Brandeis Women’s and Gender Studies

Brandeis WGS Story: Feyza Burak Adli

As an Islamic Feminist, I often got caught in the crossfire in the endless battles of mentalities, ideologies and discourses. I was supposed to be either this side or that, but I was neither This, nor That. Thereby, I was doubly targeted by the mindless arrows of the Both. Failing to explain how I was all of them at once, -this, that and the other-, I sought shelter in the Hearts from the Minds. Only the heart-minded could see the shared humanity amongst the Diversity, defy divisive discursive powers, and appeal for justice for “ Us” all. No, I am not talking about reconciliation through Tolerance, but sheer Love. Women’s and Gender Studies at Brandeis was home to Love, Social Justice and people like me. Doubly anchored in Anthropological discipline and Feminist epistemology, I celebrated the Unity in Diversity with my friends, colleagues and teachers. We cut across religion, race, ethnicity, class and gender in our shared mission to empower the less powerful in the face of the Power. Exposing the normative construction[s] of Knowledge and Meaning, we, self-reflexively and scholarly, reflected upon the multiplicity, fluidity and the Beauty of the identities. We aimed to account for the wide range of experiences, and break down the dichotomy of the center and periphery. We were the heart-minded vocalists of the voiceless across the globe. We were the interdisciplinary band of social justice. We were proudly a member of visionary Brandeis WGS.

BIR GURBET DESTANI Sunday, May 19 2013 

Gozlerimde bulutlar, bulutlarda gozlerim.
Islanan sadece yuzum deil,
Islanan yasli sehrim.

Kanat acarken bilinmeze dogru ben,
Bi masaldi bitirdigim.
Arkamda biraktigim koca bi tarih,
Koca bir ana yuregi,
Cocuklugum ve Gencligim.

Ne varsa bana dair,
Ne varsa ben olan,
Arkamda biraktigim
Koca bir dost ordusu,
Istanbulu teslim ettigim.

Gubetin ilk oklari cikti yaydan;
Sinelerden bosaldi oluk oluk kan.
Cinlatirken kulaklarimi
Annemin sessiz cigliklari,
Elinden simsiki tutup askin
Vardim ben dier ucuna arzin.


Yokluga uyandim ertesi sabah,
Balikci Kralin diyarina.
Ah dedim deli gonul ah,
Kaldir simdi kadehini yanlizliga.

Dedim bu toprakda birsey yesermez,
Gozyaslari ile sulamaya degmez.
Corak ulke burasi, yaban eller, gurbet,
Cevir kum saatini; vuslata degin sabret!!!

Bastan asagi yesile bezenmis bu topraklar
Bense kupkuru bir coldeydim
Bir vaha ariyorduki gozlerim
Su getirdi kalbimin kapisini calanlar.

Bir bir girdiler iceri ellerinde testiler,
Rayihalariyla ruhumu mestettiler;
Karanligima yanan mumlar,
Geceme dogan ay oldular.

Birlikte soyluyor, caliyorduk sazimizi;
Neticede ayniydi medar-i kalp sizisi;
Ki bir baktik gurbet olmus ayri bir yuva,
Beraber geri sayarken vuslata.


Bir demet yurek colu cevirirken cennete
Bir mabet diktik gul bahcesinin orta yerine

Ki tek tek tasidi kucuk eller tuglalari
Ki bir bir sivadi buyuk kalpler duvarlari.

Asra yemin olsunki Rab bizzat kutsadi
Meclisinde gul kokan bu Divani

Evvel binbir cesit kervanin binbir yolcusu iken
Ayni Han’da ictik Ab-i sudeka cesmesinden

Ne ben yanlizdim artik, ne de yildizlar
Sagligina kavusmustu burda balikci kral

Ve bir bir cigliklari duyuldu o miniklerin
Taclandirdi dunyamizi renkleri bu meleklerin

Gozkirparken yeni yildizlar her yeni geceye semada
Ardindan beraber dilek tutuldu kayan yildizlarimiza.

Son kayan yildizin adi sitare
Veda etti cok ozleyecegi guneye.

Gurbetin oklari bir kez daha cikti yaydan
Yaralandi yine yurek ayrilirken yardan

Bir guvercin kaderi benimkisi,
Sonbaharda savrulan yapraklar misali.

Kuzeye esen ruzgara kapildi ruhum;
Yeni bir beldeye dustu tohumum.

Sabir ve sevgiyle yeniden yesertecegim onu
Guneyin yildizlarindan ogrendim cunku umudu.

Sen dagit kagitlari birkez daha hayat
Bu elde ben kazanicam sana inat!



PS: I had written this poem when I left Chapel Hill for Boston years ago. Then I totally forgotten about it, until someone I don’t know found me on Facebook and asked me if the poem belonged to me. What a small world:) My poem found her way back to me:)) 

THE POWERFUL EPHEMERAL by Carla Bellamy Friday, May 10 2013 

Carla Bellamy’s extraordinary thick ethnography conducted in a Sufi shrine in India turned out to be nothing I expected as an anthropologist studying Sufism. That is, it is not about a typical Muslim tariqat with a murshid and his murids observing a discursive Sufi tradition to maintain God consciousness and achieve spirituality on daily basis. Rather, it is about Sufi shrines of deceased saints, which have become multi-religious centers of healing. In a nutshell, possessed by malevolent spirits (prets or jinns), people join the dargah in which they are exorcised in time by the grace of the saint. The battle between the bad spirit and the good saint which takes place in the body of the host is called haziri. There are many different levels of rituals such as incensing the smoke of labon, bathing in the dirty waters, or in the healing waters of the gardens (rauza), as well as a long process of learning the parables of Sufi saints and prophets in Islamic history, which would provide a template for the experience of the possessed.  However, this paper focuses mostly on Bellamy’s theoretical approaches to the very rich ethnographic data she collected during her fieldwork.

Both Muslims and non-Muslims seek help and “justice” from the saints in Husain Tekri shrines for their inflicted souls, which are victimized by malevolent spirits.  Bellamy asserts repeatedly that these healing centers, dargahs, are neither Islamic, Islamicate, nor syncretic:

Dargah culture is properly understood as a religious culture in and of itself, rather than a culture that draws its forms of authority and practice from Hinduism, islam, or a syncretic combination of the two. Rather than “Hindu” or “Muslim,” Indian dargah culture is South Asian (6).

Syncretism may have negative connotations invoking a sense of hodge-podge image, as Frank Korom informs; however, viewing dargahs as a new South Asian religion without referencing to its Islamicate, if not Islamic, foundations is not convincing, especially given the fact that such dargah phenomena, at least of very similar sorts, are widespread in the Middle East.

Bellamy delineates these dargahs as informal courts where the victims voluntarily ascribe to its painful healing processes during the “interrogation” of the malevolent spirit who resides in their host bodies. In other words, dargahs “possess a symbolic authority that lacks an institutionalized relationship with actual political authority” (11). Such an authority can only be acknowledged only in places where people’s cosmological beliefs include the existence of spirits, benevolent or malevolent, while their social worldviews recognizes the potential jealousy among themselves, which can cause harm via those spirits. In a sense, then, Bellamy is right to state that this is a South Asian phenomenon, highlighting the contextual “conditions of possibility” of such dargahs. She further asserts that healing is always actualized in social forms:

“healing…is conceptualized and experienced through relationships with immediate and extended family members….social integration seems to be a major measure of one’s level of recovery;…recovery is only real when it is recognized and accepted by others” (58).

Although situating the practice along with its motivations, causes, effects, processes, implication, and outcomes in the cultural setting of South Asian is well documented and analyzed by Bellamy, it is still astonishing to see her dismissal of any psychological interpretations. She does not find any psychological anthropology theories applicable in her case study, which has so many similarities with the case studies of Obeseyekere, Csordas, Cropanzano etc.  She asserts that:

“Healing in haziri develops out of displacement rather than from any sort of enduring self-assertion on the part of the women themselves…. its power comes from time and place rather than persons or personalities” (154).

Although it is undeniably a social/cultural phenomena, another layer of analysis through psychological theories may have indeed enriched Bellamy’s data analysis on healing processes in dargahs. As Arthur Kleinman suggests, analyzing such phenomena, which are simultaneously social and personal, an interactional model should be employed between cultural and psychological theories.

Bellamy also resists treating dargah rituals as typical spirit possessions, which are widely studied phenomena in anthropology.  Due to people’s lifelong commitment to dargahs, she claims the discourse of healing in these shrines can be best defined as everyday life rather than a sacred ritual.  She explains that the salient narrative of  “I came, I prayed, I got better” in such healing centers does not really account for the complexity of the experience. She states that:

“Pilgrims…experience life as a chronic illness. Recurrent visits to one’s chosen dargah, whether to offer thanks, seek blessing, offer respect, or request help for an old or new problem, are necessary to keep the illness in remission” (29).

In other words, what elevates dargah culture into the status of religion on its own, according to Bellamy, is the lifelong commitments to a given Sufi shrine by Indians regardless of their creed.  She further suggests that paradoxically it is the diversity of its practitioners that provides the efficacy of the healing. She says, “Husain Tekri is an otherness-centered culture” in which the other is not only the source of danger and ambiguity but also healing and companionship. It is hard to understand Bellamy’s resistance to call this diverse community under the same roof of the shrine as an example of Turnerian “communitas.” To me, it is a perfect example of a Turnerian liminal space in which the actors suspend their actual lives, roles and responsibilities and constitute a community of its own, and will potentially either reintegrate to their social group at the end, or resist it all together with an unpredicted or unintended, newly acquired identity (i.e. by converting to Islam).

In conclusion, Bellamy presents us a very thick description in her ethnography that one wants to pause in each section and reflect upon the details, all of which are impregnated with new potential analyses. This short review paper does not do justice to its actual depth, complexity, and richness of both its ethnographic data and theoretical analyses.

RETHINKING PYSCHIATRY by Arthur Kleinman MD. Friday, May 10 2013 

Arthur Kleinman’s groundbreaking work irrevocably changed the ways psychiatry functions as a universal scientific biological practice. Kleinman’s cross-cultural studies have proved that mental health is always intrinsically intertwined with cultural norms from its diagnosis to its treatment. He exposes the “tacit professional ideology that exaggerates what is universal in psychiatric disorder and deemphasizes what is culturally particular” (22). However, it should be noted that he does not diminish psychiatry to cultural studies; rather, he astutely promotes an interactional model that takes cultural, personal and biological history into consideration in the practice of psychiatry.

Most of his book is dedicated to expose the nuanced and obvious ways in which psychiatry as an institutional practice and mental health as a personal experience are informed, if not totally constructed, by cultural and social structure. He introduces the anthropological gaze into the psychiatry as such:

In the anthropological vision, the two-way interaction between social world and person is the source of thought, emotion, action. This mediating dialectic creates experience. It is as basic the formation of personality and behavior as it is to the causation of mental disorder. Mental illnesses are real; but like other forms of the real world, they are the outcome of the creation of experience by physical stuff interacting with symbolic meanings (3).

 He acknowledges that “pervasive cultural apparatus” such as language irrefutably “orders social life” (3). He echoes the Foucaultian constructivist model in which human beings are born into a language system which determines and mediates not only the cultural and personal experiences of the patients with mental illness, but also the categories of psychiatry, diagnosis and the clinicians himself. He explains how a personal experience of illness, for instance, can be shaped by culture:

Because language, illness beliefs, personal significance of pain and suffering, and socially learned ways of behaving when ill are part of that process of mediation, the experience of illness (or distress) is always a culturally shaped phenomenon (like style of dress, table etiquette, idioms for expressing emotion, and aesthetic judgments) (7).

 He further defines diagnosis as a “semiotic act” which is a sort of translation of a patient’s symptoms into a categorically-valid disease by a clinician whose practice is ultimately “shaped by social values” (8, 12). That is, both the patient and the clinician feel, communicate, and act within the limits of their cultural and/or social categories which are themselves also “outcomes of historical development, cultural influence, and political negotiation” (12).  However, Kleinman by no means renders psychiatric diagnosis invalid; rather, he promotes a certain degree self-reflectivity on the part of the clinician’s position by “antropologizing the practitioner’s gaze” (107). He elaborates upon the unavoidable situatedness of the clinician as such:

The psychiatrist experiences, moreover, in his own professional identity the fears and stigma that attach to serious mental illness. His diagnostic criteria are infiltrated with cultural norms and biases. His treatment is founded on the very apparatus of culture- words, symbols, meanings, not least of all his own social persona and charisma. The ethical commitments of his practice are constrained by cultural values (183).

Kleinman, a psychiatrist himself, objectively critiques the increasing discourse and praxis of medicalization for being “another alternative form of social control, inasmuch as medical institutions come to replace legal, religious, and other community institutions as the arbiters of behavior” (9). It must have shocked most of his colleagues when attacks what he deems to be “bureaucratically motivated attempts to medicalize the human condition” (17).  He stresses the ways in which medicalization in many countries has either trivialized or denied ubiquitous social issues that lie beneath the major mental health problems. Besides, he reminds us the wicked times in which psychiatry served to the state or the political authority in a way that victimized rather than healed people. Nazi operations are the best examples of such horrible history of medicine. He also mentions how communist China and Soviets manipulated psychiatry practice by labeling the dissidents ills and isolating them from the public.  However, unlike Foucault, Kleinman does not touch upon the subtle ways in which “biopower” is utilized by the power. He mostly focuses on the explicit political manipulations.

His main argument includes but is not limited to political and social implications of the practices. His cross-cultural studies, underlining the differences of what counts as normal and abnormal in different cultures, points also to the fear of cultural stigma among people. For instance, Mexican-American families tend to call their schizophrenic relatives as nervious simply because it is “less stigmatizing than the use of a language of madness” (49). It should also be noted that the impact of stigmatization varies greatly between the egocentric Western societies and sociocentric  non-Western societies. That is, in traditional societies, stigma does not only attach to the mentally ill person, but also to his/her entire family.

Kleinman critiques the standardization of Western psychotherapy and asserts that it is “merely one indigenous form of symbolic healing” (114). He develops a comprehensive grid as criteria for cross-cultural study of indigenous healing practices including psychotherapy. There are seven main units of analyses with their sub-units: 1) institutional setting, 2)characteristics of the interpersonal interaction, 3) characteristics of the practitioner, 4)idioms of communication, 5) clinical reality, 6) therapeutic stages and mechanisms, and 7) extratherapeutic aspects. Using the criteria, he compares many healing practices cross-culturally revealing both unexpected commonalities and cultural differences.

In conclusion, he postulates that “to rethink psychiatry from a cross-cultural perspective, then, is to confront culture” (183). However, it should be underlined that he never emerges as a radical Foucaultian constructivist; but as a “cultural interactionist” or “modified relativist” (187). He notes the professional bias of not only psychiatry, but also anthropology as well. While the first tends to deny “social causes and social remedies,” the latter notoriously dismisses the biological and personal aspects of the mental illness.  Thereby, he emphasizes over and over again that what we need is a dialectical relationship between the two fields in order to address mental illness.

PRIMORDIAL LOVE Saturday, Apr 27 2013 


He took my eyes out in a Fall night

To break-in the backyard of my mind

Strolling along the harvested Field

And it was almost already Spring

He found the Well and jumped in;

As Narcissus was predestined.


He reached the Source through Vein 

In the heat of a lavender Summer,

Bathed in pure blood;

Indeed the purest ever

Warm, vibrant, vibrating.

Dived deeper and deeper,

Till he hit the luminous coral,

And the Pearl veiled in the bottom.


He stepped during the Fall

on the shrubs of my withering soul

Witnessing my colors

altering from scarlet to yellow

In the coast of New England

the peek of premature snow.

Frozen wild child spirit

So that he may smash it

with an accidental blow.


Spring would finally arrive

with a fake uncanny smile.

As mean as April, he’d whisper:

“Ye woman; BE!”

So that he may undress me.

Silky skin, milky breasts

Blasting belly, rotting flesh.


He robbed me of

neither my ennobled Self

Nor my sacred Will.  

‘tis a Primordial Love

of Adam and Eve.

Such a sweet Ordeal. 


Feyza / April 13/ Boston

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