Department of Government
Sarah Fischer’s research investigates the relationship among secularism, gender, and democratization in the Middle East; her dissertation utilizes the Turkish headscarf issue as a case study. She examines how Turkish secularism came to focus on women’s bodies, particularly via the headscarf. Furthermore, she looks at the impact that laws nominally enacted to protect secularism have had on the 64% of Turkish women who wear the headscarf and are thus prohibited from entering schools and government buildings. Her research begins to delineate the impact these bans have had on women’s education and political activism.
Originally from Iowa, Sarah has lived in Istanbul and Ankara. She has won numerous nationally-competitive grants and has been invited to speak on gender issues in the Middle East and Turkish politics. Sarah has worked at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women in Politics, as an aide to a state legislator, and in the private sector.
DegreesMA, Government, American University
BA, Political Science, Iowa State University
BS, English (literature), Iowa State University
Favorite Spot on Campus:The library
Book Currently Reading:The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
Languages Spoken:English, Turkish, Azeri
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Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities
- The headscarf, veil, and/or hijab
- Turkish Politics
- The Middle East
- Female Muslim migrants in Europe and North America
Honors, Awards, and Fellowships
- Iowa State University Alumni Association STATEment Maker for Top 20 Alumni Under 30 Years of Age, Awarded February 2011.
- Iowa State University Women’s Club Pat Miller Memorial Award, Awarded November 2002.
- Talbot Award for Outstanding Senior in Political Science, Awarded April 2002.
- Cardinal Key Honor Society, Inducted Spring 2002.
- Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, Inducted February 2002.
- Phi Kappa Phi All University Honor Society, Inducted September 2000.
- Golden Key Academic Honor Society, Inducted September 2000.
- Establishing Sacred Secular Spaces: The Headscarf Ban at Turkish Universities. Presented at the European Science Foundation Conference on Religion, Gender, and Human Rights, June 21-25, 2011. Linkoping, Sweden.
- The Politics of Education Policy in Turkey: Secularism and Gender in Turkey's Education System. Presented at the Young Scholars on Turkey Conference, April 15, 2011. Washington, D.C.
- Gender Differences in Reasons for Support of Islamist Political Parties: The Case of Turkey. Presented at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, September 1-5, 2010, Washington, D.C., and the Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting, March 31-April 3, 2011, Chicago, Illinois.
- Islam in Turkey. Three invited presentations (one for clergy members, one for the public, and one for students) at Islam: A Day of Understanding and Dialogue, February 21-22, 2011. Storm Lake, Iowa.
- State Secularism and the Headscarf Divide at Turkish Universities. Invited presentation to the SETA Foundation, December 16, 2010. Washington, D.C.
- Is Secularism Good for Women? Evidence from the Turkish Headscarf Debate. Presented at the Multiculturalism in a Global Community Conference, July 25-29, 2010. Tehran, Iran.
- The Veil, Gender, and Nationalist Agendas in Turkey. Presented at the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies Symposium on Re-Conceptualizing Gender in the Middle East, July 19-24, 2010. Barcelona, Spain.
- The Headscarf Issue, Multiculturalism, and Secularism in Turkey. Presented at the Reconciling Customary Law Norms, Identity-Related Conflicts, and State Institutions: Mexico's Multicultural Experiment in Comparative Perspective Conference, February 18-19, 2009. Washington, D.C.
- "The Beauty of Concealment and the Concealment of Beauty."; Forthcoming, October 2011. In The History of Feminist Thought. Tiffany Wayne, ed. Greenwood, Colorado: ABC-CLIO.
- "Gender and Judicial Decision Making: A Comparative Analysis."; 2008. In Women Moving Forward, vol. 3. Raul Fernandez-Calienes and Judith Bachay, eds. Charleston, South Carolina: BookSurge Publishing.
Grants and Sponsored Research
- Fischer has won over $225,000 in grants and fellowships. Please contact her directly for a complete list.