Semiha Topal

Semiha Topal is a scholar of religion and gender focusing on Islam and Muslim societies, particularly modern Turkey. Her research explores the question of piety, self-construction and women’s agency against the backdrop of the "religious vs secular" conflict. She earned her PhD in Religious Studies from Arizona State University in 2012, with a dissertation titled “Building a Pious Self in Secular Settings: Muslim Women in Modern Turkey.” She holds an MA in Gender Studies and Religion from SOAS-University of London in the UK and a BA degree in English Language and Literature from Fatih University in Turkey. Before moving her career to the US, she taught at Fatih University for three years as an Assistant Professor of Sociology, while serving as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Department. She worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Colgate University (2018-2019) and the College of William & Mary (2019-2023) teaching courses on Islam, the Middle East, gender, secularism, and world religions. Currently, she holds the Program Manager position at the Tuohy Center for Interreligious Understanding at John Carroll University. Her published articles include “Everybody Wants Secularism, But Which One?” (International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, 2012) and “Female Muslim Subjectivity in the Secular Public Sphere” (Social Compass, 2017). Her most recent research explores de-veiling, or “de-hijabization,” among pious Turkish Muslim women in the context of autocratic Islamist rule.