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

Ongoing Terror in Watertown Friday, Apr 19 2013 

photo-6 copy photo-7 photo-8 photo-9 photo-10 photo-11 photo-12 photo-13 photo-14 photo-15 photo-16 photo-17 photo-18As I was trying to focus on my paper on subject formation and cultural reproduction around midnight in my regular Starbucks location at the heart of Harvard Square, I started to receive calls from friends informing me about the assassination of MIT officer and telling me to go home right away.  I was devastated to hear the death of  another innocent in the very city where I have been living so peacefully for so many years. As I put on my jacket to leave the coffee shop and walk couple of blocks to my car, for the first time in my life, I got scared. I was feeling insecure in the very neighborhood that I raised my daughter, that I spend nights till sunrise in its libraries and coffee shops, that I always felt being at home. Was I afraid of a terrorist attack? Maybe. But I was more concerned to be attacked by a Bostonian fellow who might be rightfully enraged on the events. Why? Because I am a veiled Muslim woman. A doctor (MD) Muslim woman with her infant had been previously assaulted in Malden that morning. Would I have enough time to explain the outraged person that I share his feelings, that I am so heartbroken and shaken for the crimes against humanity regardless of race, gender and faith, that I have been actively engaged interfaith dialogue, that I dedicate my anthropological career to celebrate the diversity of cultures, that I am spiritual person whose faith demand LOVE more than anything else, that I love him/her and the Other for we are all the beloved children of the same God, that I love this country, as much as I love my home country, for welcoming millions like me in their pursuit of happiness, that ideologies, religion, and any kind of discursive powers cut across the common humanity we share, that we are all capable the same to “fall” in our life course, that we are all capable the same to love and respect, and we all aspire and follow different discourses that we deem to be right without undermining the others as false consciousness? Would I have enough time to make him believe in the tenets of pluralism? My phone kept ringing and my friend told me to stay there and they would pick me up. They were Indian Americans. They were worried about any potential hate crime, as I was. But, I said, NO! No, I still believe in Boston. I would walk to my car as usual, and go home with utmost trust to my fellow Bostonians. And I did. As I got in my car, I felt triumphant for the common sense of Boston.

As I turned right to Memorial Drive, not towards MIT but toward Watertown, suddenly I got caught up in the police chase. Hundreds of police cars were speeding through the memorial drive. I thought I would be safe once I could make my turn to Mt. Auburn towards Waltham, and leave the chase behind me. I was wrong! Then, all of a sudden, the area swarmed by security forces so fast that I did not even notice at first that I was caught in the barricaded area, where the first suspect was being arrested. I was surrounded by so many neon lights and police cars, and I got out of the car to see what was going on. Then I saw that I am in the middle of action, steps away where they surrounded the suspect 1. Army personnel were screaming each other to put their helmets on, SWAT teams were running in full guards, and police were taking out all kinds of guns right before my eyes. I was somehow invisible to them. I tried to stop and ask couple of officers what to do, and that my brother lives next block and whether I can take refuge there. For the moment, nobody really cared about me. Being terrorized, I returned my car and start taking pictures. Since I was receiving phone calls over calls from friends and the family, I decided to hang up and report my situation on tweeter where they can all simultaneously follow. The police started to evacuate the place from the gathered onlookers and journalists on foot. I thought maybe I should just leave my car there in the middle of street and run on foot with other civilians. It made sense first. But then I thought what if the security forces got a wrong alarm and waste their time being alerted about my abandoned car in the middle of the street. I could not leave! I kept taking pictures and tweeting, thinking that maybe these would be my last words. I did not want to be alone if something was going to happen to me. I sought shelter in tweeter by connecting with people I love and care about me. Then, couple of officers started to barricade the area with the yellow crime-scene bands. They came toward me, and I thought “now they are going to notice me and save me from the scene.” But, no, they literally continued to barricade over my head and my car, as if I am invisible. “Am I already dead” I thought for a second given no one was “seeing” me. Then I reacted loudly that “I want a way out.” Somehow, another officer from afar noticed me, and came towards me saying “You should not be here!” Agreed. He helped me to get out by clearing the road from police cars and journalists.

As I made it to my brother’s house, they were already scared to death for me. It was already 2 am. To my shock, I was already famous on tweeter. News agencies around the world started to call one by one. Then I hooked on the TV news till 5 am and became more and more restless for the risk of an attack at home by the second suspect at large. Then I fell asleep till 6:30 am. The first thing I did, as I opened my tired eyes, was to check the news for the good news; only to be disappointed to find out not only that whole Watertown has been on lockdown, but also that they turned out to be Muslim Chechens.

No, I said, No. These guys are not Muslims no matter what their identity badge reads. These guys do not represent the respectful and admirable people of Chechnia. They are simply troubled pathological sociopaths with no identity whatsoever. They have no identity. That is why they are at war with the human beings with dignity and character. I already saw tweets of hatred for Islam. Let’s not loose our dignity and good faith; let’s not be like them. Let’s believe in our common humanity regardless of creeds. Terrorism has no religion, no identity! It is a religion on its own observed by the people who have lost their humanity. They try to convert us to their religion by their heinous acts. Let’s unite rather than divide at the face of their attempts to shatter humanity.

Now it is 2 pm, and we are trapped at home waiting what is going to happen next. The army and SWAT teams have already searched our premises fully armed, as they do every single house since last night. Yes, I was terrorized by the specter of guns targeting at me. Yes, it was surreal, not a familiar scene in my beautiful Boston. Yes, it was frustrating and upsetting to be surrendered by tanks at my own house. But, No, I do not complain.  We all have to admire what those security forces with various uniforms have been doing for the last twelve hours. They are here to protect us, and bring justice not only to Bostonians but to entire humanity. There is nothing else we civilians can do at the moment; but pray God and trust the US forces. I am tired of reporting on tweeter, and yet they are not tired of protecting us! God bless them!

I am truly deeply sorry for the lost lives and injured souls in this ongoing tragic event. It does not matter if I am an American citizen or not, if I am Muslim or not, or if you are an atheist, secular, liberal, African, Asian, Middle Eastern: we are human beings with the same inspirations of love, happiness, social bond, prosperity and empathy. This tragedy did not affect Bostonians only; it is a crime against humanity that the entire globe should condemn together and stand strong together.  Peace, forever. Amen.


S/HE Friday, Apr 19 2013 


I do not want to stop.

Not that I have no time

to catch my breath,

but not to attempt

to reflect back.


“Think about it tomorrow”

advises Scarlet O’Hara

every single night.


The war needs to be over.

Casualties to be accounted later.

Till then

Embody the Pain!


“No further comments,

 still an ongoing investigation”

 says the Officer

every time I inquire.



I do not want to stop.

Not that I have no time

to catch my breath,

but not to dare

to look back.


“Know Thyself”

says Socrates,

but never alerts

about the price

of the prize.


The war has to be fought.

Casualties left behind.

Till the end,

Deny the Pain!


This is a “cold case”

Of humanity

Says the Officer.

Not a single culprit,

But myriad suspects. 



Boston April 13

(fresh, immature, unedited draft)

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