Engineering self and civil society: the promise of charity in Turkey

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In this article, I will show that charitable giving, along with charitable associations’ institutional practices, fashion moral, productive, and religious citizens through both intent and practice of giving. Thereby the individual donors and associations not only legitimize their aim of social transformation with reference to religious norms of giving, but at the same time also introduce new, professionalized (rationalized) forms to further develop, track, institutionalize and regulate these norms. If we define religious engineering as ‘active and conscious ways of working on the future shape of a given society’(cf. Spies and Schrode, Introduction), this article argues that the work of charitable associations and the processes of charitable giving in Turkey are practices of ‘religious engineering’ and should be analysed as such. I do this analysis through a direct focus on activities, ideas, and implementations of charitable associations and individuals.

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