• Creating Charisma Online: The Role of Digital Presence in the Formation of Religious Identity

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-04-23)
      This article investigates the construction and transmission of charisma through online channels, and its role in the formation of religious identities. Mindful of Max Weber’s observation that charisma inhabits the relationship between a leader and their followers, I argue for a critical reappraisal of the theoretical model in light of the ubiquity in the 21st century of new, virtual forms of social encounter. I focus my analysis on the Christian creationist movement in the USA, and particularly on an influential leader called Ken Ham. Using digital ethnographic methods, I show how Ham constructs charisma online, and how a virtual community forms itself around his charismatic claims. I illustrate how this virtual community intersects with offline worlds, and suggest that the theme park attractions that Ham’s organisation runs (Creation Museum, Ark Encounter) are imbued with deflected charisma by virtue of their association with his online avatar.
    • The Gülen Movement in London and the politics of public engagement: producing 'Good Islam' before and after 15 July

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester; University of Cambridge (Taylor & Francis, 2018-03-22)
      Since the failed coup of 15 July 2016, for which it is held responsible, the Gülen Movement (GM) has been in crisis. With no foreseeable future in its homeland, the GM is now tasked with regrouping abroad. This article investigates the GM in London, a city that, for various reasons, is likely to become a significant centre for Gülenist activity in the post-coup era. Taking the Dialogue Society (DS) as its focus, it investigates the prospects of the GM’s survival by analyzing its activities, both before and after the coup, in light of Mamdani’s discussion of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Muslims in the post9/11 world. The article shows how the GM has established itself as a voice of ‘good’ Islam in the context of British debates on Islam and radicalization. It suggests that the public presence the GM has established for itself through its public engagement activities in the UK could constitute a central part of its fight back against resident Erdoğan, and be catalytic to its creation of a dynamic future in exile.
    • The Gülen Movement in Turkey: The Politics of Islam and Modernity

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester (I.B. Tauris, 2016-08-29)
      What is the Gulen Movement and why is Turkey's President Erdogan so convinced that the organisation and its charismatic leader were behind the failed military coup of 15th July 2016? The Gulen, or Hizmet, movement in Turkey was until recently the country's most powerful and affluent religious organisation. At its head is the exiled Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who leads from a gated compound in the Pocono Mountains of the USA.The movement's central tenet is that Muslims should engage positively with modernity, especially through mastering the sciences. At hundreds of Gulen-run schools and universities, not only in Turkey but also worldwide and particularly in the United States, instructors have cultivated the next generation of Muslim bankers, biologists, software engineers and entrepreneurs. In this groundbreaking study, Caroline Tee, an expert on the Gulen Movement, analyses the complex attitudes of Gulen and his followers towards secular modernity. Considered against the backdrop of Turkish politics, Gulenist engagement with modern science is revealed as a key source of the influence the movement has exerted.
    • The Gülen Movement: Between Turkey and international exile

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester (Brill, 2021-06-24)
      This is a chapter introducing the Gülen Movement to a general scholarly readership, as part of a Handbook of Islamic Sects and Movements.
    • Said Nursi’s Notion of ‘Sacred Science’: Its Function and Application in Hizmet High School Education

      Tee, Caroline; Shankland, David; University of Chester (Brill, 2014-04-30)
      This paper explores the teaching of natural science subjects in high schools associated with the Gülen-Hizmet movement in Turkey. It focuses on the apparent reconciliation of scientific learning in a pervasive, albeit unofficial, Sunni Islamic religious culture. The framework for such an accommodation is found in the teachings of Fethullah Gülen and his predecessor, Said Nursi. Following Nursi, Gülen encourages scientific pursuit, and intellectual knowledge in general, as a pious and spiritually meritorious act. Drawing on fieldwork conducted at two Hizmet-affiliated high schools in Turkey, this article explores the “sanctification” of science and learning in the Gülen Movement by highlighting the principle of fedakarlık (self-sacrifice), as the primary motivation of the teaching staff. Focusing also on the schools’ highly disciplined and competitive learning environments (as exemplified in preparations for the prestigious International Science Olympiads), the article suggests that although teacher commitment and prestigious competitive awards bolster the Hizmet schools’ market competitiveness, they fail in actually producing students who pursue careers in natural science fields. By contrast, this article concludes that the movement’s engagement with science, at least at present, is less interested in furthering scientific inquiry than it is in equipping what Gülen has called a ‘Golden Generation’ with the tools it needs to compete with secularist rivals in Turkey.