Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff - Chris Houston

Contact Details

Position: Associate Professor
Location: W6A 606
Consultation Hours:(during semester) tba
Telephone: +61-2-9850-8471
Fax: +61-2-9850-9391 
Chris Houston


See academic profile

I arrived at Macquarie in 2005, after teaching anthropology for three years at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. In the anthropology programme at Macquarie I teach in the broad area of political anthropology, and also co-convene first year and Honours. In my teaching I try to engineer a meeting - as anthropology always does - between more abstract social theory and particular ethnographic interpretation and representation. At the moment I am interested in the broad areas of the anthropology of the city and the politics and lived experience of Islam. Both of these interests have been fostered by my fieldwork in the wonderful/terrible city of Istanbul, where I have lived on and off for a number of years. Istanbul was my base for the study of the Islamic social movement in Turkey, in which I explored the ways political Islam in the Turkish context was organized and practiced. My years in Turkey (and other places) have also encouraged my interest in republicanism, nationalism and literature, as well as how the organization of space and architecture are connected with these political practices.

See academic research


All of my work in Turkey has been dealing with the political repercussions of Turkish Republicanism, both in terms of its excluding and assimilating nationalism and its fundamentalist secularism. For this reason I have done work on the Kurdish question in Turkey and on the politics of the Islamist social movements, both of which reveal the way Turkish politics is structured to severely limit the ability of civil society to democratically self-organize free from the heavy hand of the State.

Secondly, and as part of my research on Turkish Kemalism, I have a particular interest in the politics of the built environment and the control of space by the Republic. My research into the built environment is also seeking to take a historical turn, to examine how social actors in the late 70s used and controlled space for ideological ends in the bitter struggle between leftists and rightists leading up to the military intervention of 1980. Here I am focusing on spatial strategies of terror - bombing, segregation of space, occupation of suburbs etc. - to understand urban politics.

See List of Publications

Books and Edited Books

Phenomenology in Anthropology: A Sense of Perspective. K. Ram & C. Houston (eds.) Indiana University Press. Bloomington. 2015.

Kurdistan:  Crafting of National Selves. Indiana University Press. Bloomington, 2008.

Islam, Kurds and the Turkish Nation-State. Berg, Oxford. 2001.

Imagined Places: The Politics of Making Space. Houston, C., Kurasawa, F., & Watson, A. (eds.) La Trobe University Press. Melbourne 1998, 230pp.

Refereed Journal Articles

Politicizing Place Perception: A Phenomenology of Urban Activism in Istanbul, in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI), Volume 21: 4, 2015: 720-738.

How Globalization Really Happens: Remembering Activism in the Transformation of Istanbul, in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Volume 39: 1, 2015: 46-61.

Ankara, Tehran, Baghdad: Three Varieties of Kemalist Urbanism, in Thesis Eleven, 2014, Vol. 121, (1), 57-75.

12 Eylül'den önce: İstanbul'da Mekân Üretimin Tasviri ve Incelenmesi

[Before 12 Eylül: Describing and Analysing Spatial Production in Istanbul], Toplum ve Bilim, No. 127, 2013: 48-67.

Thwarted Agency and the Strange Afterlife of Islamism in Militant Laicism in Turkey, Contemporary Islam: The Dynamics of Muslim Life, Volume 7, Issue 3, 2013: 333-351.

The Iranian Diaspora in Sydney: Migration Experience of Recent Iranian Immigrants, Iranian Studies (co-authored with Tiffany Tenty), Volume 46, No 4, 2013: 625-640.    

Anthropology, Autonomy & the Art of Revolution, Anthropological Theory, Volume 12, No 3, 2012: 252-270.

The Islam of Anthropology, Australian Journal of Anthropology, Volume 20, No 2, 2009: 198-212.

'Reproducing and Contesting Social Norms and Forms in Turkey', Introduction to special edition on Turkey for Journal of Intercultural Studies, Volume 30, No 1, 2009: 1-6.

An Anti-History of a Non-People: Kurds, Colonialism and Nationalism in the History of Anthropology, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI), Volume 15: 1, 2009: 19-35.

Set Aside from the Pen and Cut off From the Foot': Imagining the Ottoman Empire and Kurdistan, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Volume 27: 2, 2007: 397-411.

The Never Ending Dance: Islamism, Kemalism and the Power of Self-Institution in Turkey, Australian Journal of Anthropology, Volume 17: 2, 2006: 161-178.

Historical Agency, Nationalism, Architecture: Some Reflections on the Anthropology of Turkey in the Nineties, Die Welt das Islams, No. 46:1, 2006: 61-75.

Provocations of the Built Environment: Animating Cities in Turkey as Kemalist, Political Geography, Volume 24: 1, 2005: 101-119.

Islam, Castoriadis and Autonomy, Thesis Eleven, February, No. 75, 2004: 49-69.

Legislating Virtue, or Fear and Loathing in Turkey? Critique of Anthropology, Volume 22: 4, 2002:  437-456.

The Brewing of Islamist Differentiation: Tea Gardens and Public Space in Istanbul, Theory, Culture and Society, Volume 18: 6, 2001: 77-97.

Profane Intuitions: Kurdish Diaspora in the Turkish City, Australian Journal of Anthropology, Volume 12: 1, 2001: 1-16.

Civilizing Islam? Turkey's Islamist Movement and the Problem of Ethnic Difference, Thesis Eleven, August, No. 58, 1999: 83-98.

Alternative Modernities: Islamism and Secularism on Charles Taylor, Critique of Anthropology, Volume 18, No. 2, June, 1998: 234-240.

Islamic Solutions to the Kurdish Problem: Late Rendezvous or Illegitimate Shortcut? New Perspectives on Turkey, 16, Spring, 1997: 1-22.

Chapters in Books

'The Anthropology of Kurdistan', forthcoming 2016 in Oxford Bibliographies of Anthropology, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

'Revolutionary Ethics: Relations Between Leftist Militants and Gecekondu Dwellers in Istanbul, 1975-1980', in The Politics of Culture in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus: Performing the Left Since the 1960s. L. Karakatsanis & N. Papadogiannis (eds.) London, Zed Books.

'Kemalism and Beyond', 2015 in The Handbook of Contemporary Middle Eastern and North African History. Jens Hanssen and Amal Ghazal (eds.), Oxford, Oxford University Press.

 'Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey after World War II', forthcoming in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Fascicle 3, Volume XVI, 2015.

'Generating Kemalism in the Antipodes: The Turkish State, AKP, and Cultural Politics in Australia', (co-authored with Banu Senay) 2015 in Reconciling Cultural and Political Identities in a Globalized World: Perspectives on Australia-Turkish Relations. Michalis Michael (ed.) London, Palgrave Macmillan.

'Introduction: Phenomenology's Methodological Invitation' (co-authored with Kalpana Ram) 2015 in Phenomenology in Anthropology: A Sense of Perspective.  Christopher Houston & Kalpana Ram (eds.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

'Neither Things in Themselves Nor Things for Us Only: Anthropology, Phenomenology and Poetry', 2015 in Phenomenology in Anthropology: A Sense of Perspective.  Christopher Houston & Kalpana Ram (eds.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

'Studying Islam and the City: The Case of Istanbul', 2014 in Studying Islam in Practice. Gabriele Marranci (ed.), Oxford, Routledge.

 'Militant Laicists, Conservative Democrats and Liberal Secularists: Contending Visions of Secularism in Turkey.' In Muslim Secular Democracy: Voices From Within. Lily Zubaidah (ed.) New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013: 253-270.

'Creating a Diaspora within a Country: Kurds in Turkey.' In Encyclopaedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World, Vol. 1, Melvin Ember, Carol R. Ember, & Ian Skoggard (eds.) New York, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2005: 403-414.

'Corporate Cities - Urban Gateways or Gated Communities against the City? The Case of Lippo, Jakarta.' Hogan, T. & Houston, C., in Critical Reflections on Cities in Southeast Asia, Tim Bunnel, Lisa Drummond, Ho Kong Chong (eds.) Tokyo, Brill Academic Publishers, 2002.: 243-264.

'Locality, Nationality, Transnationality: Kuzguncuk, Turkey, Islamistan?' In Imagined Places: The Politics of Making Space, Chris Houston, Fuyuki Kurasawa & Amanda Watson (eds.) Melbourne, La Trobe University, 1998: 131-138.

'Contesting Utopias in the Cities of Grief.' In Houston, C., Kurasawa, F. & Watson, A. (eds.) Imagined Places: The Politics of Making Space. Melbourne, La Trobe University, 1998: 105-107.

Editor Journal Issue

Special edition on Turkey, for Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol 30, Number 1, 2009.

Papers in Non-refereed Journals, Conference proceedings, Published Reports

'A Season of Protest in Turkey: Gezi Park and Beyond', in Asian Currents 2013 (The Asian Studies Association of Australia E-Bulletin)

Khirthar National Park: An Anthropological Baseline Study. Written for and published by Sindh Wildlife Department (Pakistan), 2001: 57pp.

Creative Works


'Death and the Maiden', 'The Reunion', 'Exile and Return', Praying for the Dead', in Earth Wings, The Outrider 91 Almanac, 1991

'They Come Like a Blessing', Southerly, March, No. 1, 1991

'A Farmhouse Burning', For Words are Wise Men's Counters', Westerly, March, No.1, 1990


The Very Beautiful Democratic Novel. 1993 (unpublished novel.)

Other Work

Book Reviews 

Woman, Man, and God in Modern Islam. By Theodore Friend (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Michigan, 2012) For Journal of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Volume 23, Issue 4, Oct 3, 2012

Evicted from Eternity: The Restructuring of Modern Rome. By Michael Herzfeld (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2009). For The Australian Journal of Anthropology (Volume 21, Issue 2, 2010)

Exploring Ottoman Sovereignty; Tradition, Image and Practice in the Ottoman Imperial Household 1400-1800. By Rhoads Murphey (London: Continuum UK, 2008. For The Historian (Volume 72: 3, Summer, 2010).

Remaking Turkey. Globalization, Alternative Modernities and Democracy. Edited by Fuat Keyman. (Lanham: Lexington Books USA, 2007). For South European Society & Politics (Vol 14: 3, 2009).

Identity Mania: Fundamentalism and the Politicization of Cultural Differences, in Australian Journal of Political Science, Volume 38: 1, 2003.

Muslim Communities in Australia, in Thesis Eleven, No. 73, 2003.

Civil Society in the Grip of Nationalism: Studies on Political Culture in Contemporary Turkey, in Thesis Eleven, No. 68, 2002.

Turkish Region: State, Market and Social Identities on the East Black Sea Coast, in The Australian Journal of Anthropology, August, Volume 13: 2, 2002

Muslim Diaspora in the West, in Journal for Inter-Cultural Studies, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2002.

A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and the Emergence of Islamism, in Thesis Eleven, No. 57, 1999.

Kurdish Nationalism, in Journal for Inter-Cultural Studies, Vol. 19, No 1, 1998.