Vasfiye Toprak

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a historical and cultural sociologist very much interested in understanding how the modern world came to be – especially the durable structures of society such as the state. Underlying this interest is a curiosity to learn more about how humans create change. Thus, in my research I study how a 500-year-old state, the Ottoman Empire, was (or was not) able to transform its structures and bring about change. I especially study the state's ability to use signs and narratives to convince its people, solve organizational problems, manage crisis, and to enact change, in the course of modernization. A larger question at stake here is how states’ create ways of thought that are adopted by its people as taken for granted ways of being in the world. I seek to bring this interest to the classroom and help students think about the political stories we hear today, what role these stories have in our lives, what role they may have played in the making of the political structures we are a part of today, and how these stories could be playing a larger role in our lives – shaping what we think it means to live a good life.