Erdal Gezik studied Economic and Social History at the Radboud University. Thereafter he conducted research on honour crimes, and on social and religious history of communities in Turkey. He is interested in religious movements/sects in the Middle East that are designated as “syncretic”, or “heterodox”.
Currently, Gezik is conducting research on the history of hereditary religious organization of Alevis. The Alevis constitute a religious minority group in Turkey. Although classified under the umbrella of Shi’ite Islam, their particular beliefs, rituals, and socio-religious tenets have given rise to popular as well as academic discussions on the origins of this creed. Their historical existence in Anatolia goes back to the second half of the Middle Ages. As a minority group, and labelled as “heretics”, they had a disadvantaged position since the 16th century. Despite this, they were able to keep their religion alive. For the rural part of the community, this has been the result of the work of the numerous holy families (sayyids/ocaks). Based on the principle of hereditary religious attachments, the sayyid families created a complex network, that connects different segments (tribes/villages) and themselves across a vast area. Until now a systematic study has not been conducted to map this type of organization in order to evaluate its historical development.
The Alevi studies in Turkey has attempted to unfold this history by referring to expanding policies of the Safavid Iran or to Bektashi order. Such uni-linear approaches have neglected the multi-layered reality of this phenomenon, which evidently has comparable examples in the Islamic world. Ernest Gellner, for example, who has analysed a similar state of religious organisation in his book The Saints of Atlas, gives interesting insights into understanding the causal factors of these kind of religious organisations. The applicability of his approach onto the history of Alevism will also be one of the main hypotheses of this study.
Selected list of publications in English and Dutch:
“Over de eermoorden en hun tegenstanders”, Rechtshulp (Maandblad voor de Sociale Praktijk), nr. 6-7, 33-38 (2002). [On honor crimes and their opponents]
“Over Eerwraak”, in: Wankele Waarden – Levenskwesties van Moslims belicht voor professionals, Forum, Utrecht (2003), 174-181 [On honor crimes]
Eer, Identiteit en Moord; een vergelijkende studie tussen Nederland, Duitsland en Turkije, NCB publicities, Utrecht (2003). [Honor, identity and crime: a comparative study between the Netherlands, Germany and Turkey]
“How Angel Gabriel Became Our Brother of the Hereafter (On the Question of Ismaili Influence on Alevism)”, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 43/1 (2015), 57-70.