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Övgü Ülgen

Övgü Ülgen


Language, Religion, and Difference: North African and Turkish Jewish Belonging in Montreal and Toronto

(Supervisor: Fahimeh Darchinian, Montréal
Mentoring: Charles Blattberg, Montréal / Michael Schönhuth, Trier)

World War II led to the formation of a new world order. Following the Holocaust in Europe, the decolonization of Africa, and the rise of Arab nationalism and anti-Semitism, there was a substantial wave of Jewish emigration from North Africa to Canada. The Six-Day War, the “Quiet Revolution” in Quebec, the Cold War, and the Yom Kippur War are some of the important events that marked the 1950s and 1970s. This period witnessed the bulk of immigration to Canada from North Africa and Turkey. Whereas francophone Jews understandably chose Montreal as their destination, most of the hispanophones settled instead in Toronto.

This study explores how the linguistic and religious contexts they found themselves in have informed their sense of belonging and identity construction. It situates itself in the field of political sociology, Quebec studies, nationalism, ethnicity, and citizenship and employs a critical approach that involves such themes as multiculturalism (including multinationalism), interculturalism, and majority-minority relations. In the scientific literature, the majority of works on Canada’s non-European Jews has been analysed mainly with regard to the history of Moroccan Jewry in Quebec. Researching the connected experiences of North African and Turkish Jews in Montreal and Toronto is thus what distinguishes this study from previous ones. Based on the “life-story method,” it focuses on 35 individuals from immigrant backgrounds and different generations who reside in Montreal and Toronto. The comparison of their testimonies allows for an in-depth examination of the complexity of their experiences. As such, the project not only looks at immigrant belonging in different linguistic and religious contexts within the two cities, but also examines the nature of cultural differences among its participants.


Since 2019
Doctoral Candidate at IRTG Diversity
Since 2017
PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Montreal
Master of Arts in Sociology, École des hautes en sciences sociales (magna cum laude)
Bachelor of Sociology, Middle East Technical University (honours degree)

Work Experience

Auxiliaire de recherche et Assistante technique, Université de Montréal
2016 - 2017
Chercheuse associée au projet de recherche "European Union Accession Process and the NGO-ization of Turkish Civil Society", Conseil national de recherche scientifique et technologique de Turquie (TUBITAK), dir. Özge Zihnioğlu.
2014 - 2015
Gestionnaire de projet à l’ONG "l’Association des Migrants pour la Coopération Sociale et Culturelle (Göç-Der)", (European Union), Istanbul/Turquie

Awards and Fellowships

Bourse Patrick Berdoz du département de sociologie de l’Université de Montréal (UdeM)
Prix de présence au Colloque de l’Association des cycles supérieurs de sociologie (ACSSUM) de l’UdeM, un cadeau féministe à l’Euguélionne, libraire féministe
Bourse en cours d’étude du département de sociologie de l’Université de Montréal (UdeM)
Bourse de mobilité du Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la diversité et la démocratie (CRIDAQ)-UdeM
2017 - 2018
Bourse d’admission du département de sociologie de l’Université de Montréal (UdeM)
Bourse d’exemption des droits supplémentaires de scolarité de l’Université de Montréal (UdeM) (pour les étudiants étrangères)
2016 - 2017
Bourse de recherche du Conseil national de recherche scientifique et technologique de Turquie (TUBITAK)
Bourse pour séjours de conférence de Bogazici University (BOUN)
2012 - 2013
Bourse de maîtrise de l’Ambassade de France en Turquie et de la Fondation turque pour l’Éducation (TEV)


(Review of) “Moments of Crisis: Religion and National Identity in Québec” by I. Morrison, in: Nations & Nationalism 26/3., mid-June (Forthcoming)
(Review of) "Impossible Exodus : Iraqi Jews in Israel" by O. Bashkin, in: Shofar : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 37/3. November, Forthcoming.
(Review of) "Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco, in: HistoireEngagee.ca, 13 décembre 2018, [en ligne]. http://histoireengagee.ca/memories-of-absence-how-muslims-remember-jews-in-morocco-recension/

Conference Presentations

On the Margin? Strange Encounters between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in the U.S., Quebec, and Canada From the Twentieth Century to the Present
Across borders: the Jews and the Others: Colloque bilingue et interuniversitaire à l’Université de Montréal (UdeM), organized by Collectif Judéité(s) et l’American Academy for Jewish Research (AAJR). Montreal, 10 March 2020.
Uncovering memory of the city within the purview of Jewish and Turkish gazes: Matrix of a comparative approach between Montreal and Istanbul
École d’été internationale La Ville/ The City/ Die Stadt, organized by Centre canadien d’études allemandes et européennes (CCÉAE), Montréal.
Racialized knowledge of the other : An intersectional (coupled with Orientalism) analysis of Mizahi/ Sephardi Jews in Israel, U.S. and Canadian scholarship (sur invitation)
La judéité dans les sciences humaines et sociales: Colloque bilingue et interuniversitaire à l’Université de Montréal (UdeM), organisé par le Collectif Judéité(s) et l’American Academy for Jewish Research (AAJR), Montreal
Rethinking Evolution of Egyptian Women’s Movement from nineteenth-century up to the 1952 Revolution within the context of Huda Sha’rawi and Doria Shafik leaderships (sur concours)
12th Conference of the European Sociological Association (ESA). Prague
Rethinking socio-economic and spatial dimensions of Urban Projects as a shift from 1980s to an authoritarian neoliberalism under AKP in Turkey through The Kanal Istanbul Project (sur concours)
2nd International Conference on Public Policy (ICPP). Milan
Between Collective Memory and Experience: The Perceptions of State Violence among Second Generation Kurdish Migrant Women in Tarlabaşı (sur concours)
Gendered Memories of War and Political Violence Young Researchers Conference, organisé par Sabancı University (SU) et Central European University (CEU). Karaköy Minerva Palace/ İstanbul
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