Merve S. Kavakci

Arlington VA



Present Position:

Adjunct Faculty

Elliott School of International Affairs

George Washington University

1957 E. st. NW Suite 604

Washington DC 20052




Ph.D. (2007) Howard University

Department of Political Science


M.P.A. (2003) Harvard University

Kennedy School of Government


B.S. (1993) University of Texas at Dallas

Department of Computer Science, 1993



Research Experience:

Questioning Turkey’s Role Model Status: A Critical Examination of Social and Political Implications of the Headscarf Ban in Turkey (Ph.D. Dissertation nominated by Dr. Mervat Hatem, dissertation advisor and President-Elect of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) to the Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award (MESA) for 2007): Through the employment of theoretical framework: postcolonialism, Orientalism and language of rights, it examines the plight of women who wear headscarves in secular state, the Turkish political system and role of religion in public space in Turkey.




Kept or Failed Promises: A Critical Examination of Social and Political Implications of the Headscarf Ban in Turkey with a Forward from Dr. John Esposito (Ph.D. Dissertation ready for publication).

2004:Headscarf Heresy,” Foreign Policy issue: 142 (May-June, 2004)

           “Put This Woman in Her Place,” QNews no: 353 (January, 2004) 

Basortusuz Demokrasi [Scarfless Democracy] (Istanbul: Timas Yayinlari, 2004, trans. to: Arabic and Persian)

            “Avrupa ve Amerika’da Musluman Kadin Olmak,” [To be Muslim Women in   Europe and America] AKDER

2003:  “Democratization of the Muslim World through Women,” edition: 9 vol: 1 (September, 2003)



Professional Experience:

2004-Present: Adjunct Faculty, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington D.C.

2006-2007: Teaching Fellow, Introduction to Political Science, Department of Political Science, Howard University

2004-2006: Teaching Assistant, Department of  Political Science, Howard University

2004-2005: Visiting Scholar, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, George Washington University        

2002-2003: Edward Mason Fellow, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Teaching Assistant, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

1999-2001: Parliamentarian (Grand National Assembly) of Turkey (denied oath of office due to headscarf)

1994-1999:  Head of Foreign Affairs, Women’s Commission of Welfare-Virtue Party, Ankara, Turkey



Service to Community:

2005-Present: Consultant, Commission on Security and Cooperation with Europe, U.S. Congress

2004-Present: Columnist, Turkish daily Vakit

1994-1999: International spokesperson for the Welfare-Virtue Party (oversaw 200,000 party workers with 11 other executive members throughout Turkey, founded and headed international relations committees of the party in 80 cities, trained party members on building political activism skills)



Invited Academic Lectures:  

2007:   “A Reverse Reading of the Muslims’ Reaction to Islamophobia in America,” December 8, 2007, International Conference on Islamophobia, The Union of NGOs of the Islamic World (Turkey)

            “Fighting for Faith,” November 19, 2007, University Lecture Series, University of Pennsylvania (USA)

            “Perils of the Empire: Islamophobia, Religious Extermism and the New Imperialism,” October 28, 2007, University of Maryland


            “Islam: The Choice of Thinking Women,” October 24, 2007, George Mason University

“Role of Religion and Turkey’s Reputation as a Moderate Islamic State,” September 5 2007, National Security Agency-Security Studies, George Washington University

“The International Threat from Radical Islam,” June 22 2007 National Security Agency-Security Studies, George Washington University

America, Islam and the Middle East, Building Bridges between the Great Divide Conference, Keynote Address, April 2 2007, Missouri State University

Women of Islam Lecture, February 9 2007, College of William and Mary           

            “East Meets the West: Turkey’s Experimentation with Democracy,” April 9 2007, University of Kentucky

            World of Islam Lecture, March 20 2007, American University

            “Muslims’ Presence in Europe,” January 29 2007, George Washington University

2006: “Issues of Hijab-Identity or Freedom Crisis,” November 24 2006, Center for Strategic Studies (Lebanon)  

“Women, Islam and the Modern Nation State,” April 7 2006, Cornell University (USA)

            “Human Rights and Women of Islam,” March 29 2006, Florida University

            “Turkey on the Path of European Union,” March 26 2006, Chai Discussion Group

 7th Annual Social Justice and Activism Conference Keynote Address, March 25 2006, New York University

            “Islam and Feminism,” February 27 2006, George Washington University

2005 “The Politics of Dress,” November 2005, Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference (USA)

          “Unveiling Turkey’s Secularism,” May 26 2005, Northwestern University

           “Democracy and Development, Challenges in the Islamic World,” April 23 2005,

Center for Study of Islam and Democracy

  World of Islam Lecture, March 20 2005, American University

2004:   “Politics, Religion and Women” Presidential Lecture Series, March 2004, Auburn University

          Women of Islam Lecture, February 2004, American University

2003: “Turkey at the Conjuncture of Islam and Democracy,” November 19 2003,

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

           “Turkey’s Secular Face,” October 2003, World Bank

“Extremism as a Threat to Global Peace,” August 23 2003, University of Texas at Arlington

           “Empowerment of Muslim Women and Challenges before Them,” March 2003, Harvard University          

           “Turkish Women’s Empowerment,” February 2003, Boston University

2002: “Islam in the Western Europe,” July 2002, Insburg University (Austria)

           German Universities Lecture Series, June 2002, Duisburg University (Germany)

           German Universities Lecture Series, June 2002, Berlin Technical University

           German Universities Lecture Series, June 2002, Hanover University

           German Universities Lecture Series, June 2002, Hamburg University

           “Dissent in the Middle East,” May 2002, Yale University

           “Human Rights Abuses against Women in the Middle East,” April 10 2002, Florida State University

          “Islamic Struggles for Justice,” February 19 2002, Cambridge University (Great Britain         

2001: “Islam in America,” November 2001, Harvard University (USA)

“Can Religion and State Burgeon Independently?” October 2001, Johns Hopkins University

Islamic Awareness Week Lecture, October 2001, Michigan University         

           “Islamist Politics and Democratization in Turkey,” June 2001, Toronto University (Canada)

           “Role of Women in the Rise of Political Islam,” June 2001, Ottowa University

            “East Meets West in Turkey,” June 2001, Carleton University

2000: “Spark of the Veil: When Religion and Politics Ignite,” November 8 2000, Harvard University-Institute of Politics (USA)

         Islamic Vision for the 21st Century Conference Keynote Address, April 26 2000, Georgetown University



Invited Public Addresses and Testimonies:

2007: “Role of Extremism in Disempowerment of Muslim Women,” July 13 2007, International Women’s Peace Conference (USA)   

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Regional Conference Keynote Address, June 30 2007

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Annual Conference Keynote Address, May 5 2007

2006: “Role Model Muslim Women,” July 6 2006, Islamexpo (Great Britain):

2005: “Religious Freedom in Modern Turkey,” April 12 2005, US Congress Commission on Security and Cooperation with Europe (USA)

“Disempowerment of Muslim Women,” March 23 2005, UN Commission on Human Rights (Switzerland)         

2004: “Turkey’s Accession to European Union,” December 14 2004, Institute of Religion and Public Policy

“Religion, Pluralism and Secular State” August 7 2004, Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs (Canada)

“Religious Dress and Secular Fundamentalism,” July 9 2004, Council for a Parliament of World’s Religions (Spain)

2002: Organization of National View (IGMG) Conference Keynote Address, May 2002 (Belgium)

2001: Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) (Cuba): Testimony on 1999 Turkish General Elections

2000: “Turkey’s Future with an Islamic Heritage,” November 1 2000, British Parliament, House of Lords (Great Britain)

          Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Annual Convention Keynote Address, August 30 2000 (USA)

          Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Annual Convention Keynote Address, July 2000

1997: International Organization for Women and Children (IOWC) Annual Conference Keynote Address, November 1997 (Turkey)          

          Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Annual Convention Keynote Address, September 1 1997 (USA)

International Muslim Women’s Union (IMWU) Annual Conference Keynote Address, May 1997 (Yemen)

Organization of National View (IGMG) Annual Conference Keynote Address, March 1997 (Germany)

1996: International Muslim Women’s Union (IMWU) Annual Conference Keynote Address April 1996 (Sudan)




Undergraduate (International Relations)

2004-Present: Culture and International Affairs: Islam and Its Challenges in 21st Century (GWU)

2006-Present: Introduction to Political Science (Howard University)

2007-Present: Political Islam (GWU)


Graduate (Comparative Politics)

2005-Present: Turkey’s Place in Europe (GWU)


Executive Program (Security Studies with the Department of Defense/National Security Agency)

2007-Present: Terrorism and Religious Extremism in the Middle East (GWU)


Teaching Assistant (International Relations)

2005-2006: Governments and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa (Howard University)

2004-2005: International Law (Howard University)

2002-2003: Politics, Justice and Social Change (Harvard University-MIT)


Teaching Assistant (Comparative Politics)

2005-2006: Nationalism and Revolution (Howard University)


Guest Lecturer

2004-Present: World of Islam (American University)



Professional Service to the Profession:

2004-Present: Reviewer/Reader, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences



Awards and Recognition for Community Service:

2004: Women of Excellence Recognition by NAACP/GWU (USA)

2000:  Exemplary Service Award in recognition of efforts for the advancement of human rights and Muslim women’s empowerment by:

International Association for Women and Children (USA)

Success Foundation

2000:  Service to Humanity Award by:

Haus der kulturellen Aktivitat und Toleranz (Austria)

1999:  Mother of the Year Award by:

Capital Platform of Ankara

National Youth Organization (Turkey)