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Begüm Adalet

Assistant Professor

Begüm Adalet

White Hall, Room 201


Begüm Adalet is Assistant Professor in the Department of Government. She is a political theorist with research and teaching interests in anticolonial thought, transnationalism, the Cold War, development, the built environment, and the Middle East. She is the author of Hotels and Highways: The Construction of Modernization Theory in Cold War Turkey (Stanford). Her writings have also appeared in Political Theory; Comparative Studies in Society and History; Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East; and Public Books.


  • Government
  • Society for the Humanities


Transnational Theories

Transnational Theories interrogates the material afterlives of slavery and colonialism by examining a network of mid-twentieth century itinerant authors, artists, and activists, whose politics and theories crystallized over the course of their Atlantic and Mediterranean crossings. This anticolonial and anti-capitalist network includes a mix of well-known and relatively neglected figures such as Claudia Jones, Lorraine Hansberry, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Eslanda Robeson, Paul Robeson, C. L. R. James, W. E. B. Du Bois, Shirley Graham, David Graham Du Bois, and James Baldwin. Each author gave an account of history carrying over into and writing itself onto the present. Together, they contemplated the afterlives of colonialism and racial capitalism not simply in terms of their invisible traces and ephemeral residues, but also through their inscriptions in architectures, infrastructures, and laboring bodies. Working across different genres, such as nonfictional essays, novels, and plays, each figure also envisioned alternative futures that would be situated and materialized in concrete and transnational practices. Rather than confined to a particular location or a set of neatly bounded concepts, their theories and praxes entailed movements and moments of exchange, collaboration, and intimacy, with their ideas evolving over the course of their engagement with each other, as well as with their engagement with the political and economic processes that they were writing about. Weaving together biography, history, and geography, this project challenges and presses beyond the interpretation of these authors as writing within domestic, nationalist or pan-Africanist contexts. In doing so, it examines transnational political theory as not an abstract concept possessed by any singular thinker but rather as a communal practice in circulation, migration, exile, imprisonment, and constant reproduction.


Fall 2021



  • Hotels and Highways: The Construction of Modernization Theory in Cold War Turkey, Stanford University Press, 2018

-Named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice (2018)

-Middle East Political Economy Book Prize (2019), Honorable Mention

Selected Articles, Chapters, and Public Writing

  • Infrastructures of Decolonization: Frantz Fanon and Scales of Worldmaking” Political Theory, forthcoming
  • “Transnational Constructions of Social Scientific Personae during the Cold War,” Cold War Social Science: International and Transnational Entanglements, eds. Mark Solovey and Christian Day (Palgrave), forthcoming
  • “Mediating the Kennedy Presidency: James Baldwin’s Decade in Turkey,” Globalizing the U.S. Presidency: Postcolonial Views of John F. Kennedy, ed. Cyrus Schayegh, Bloomsbury Series “New Approaches to International History,” 2020
  • “James Baldwin, Here and Elsewhere” (Review of Eddie Glaude’s Begin Again) Public Books, 2020
  • “Tensions, terrors, tenderness: James Baldwin’s Politics of Comparison,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 38 (3), December, 2018
  • “It’s not yours if you can’t get there”: Mobility and State-making in Turkey. The Funambulist Magazine: Politics of Space and Bodies, 17, May-June issue on Weaponized Infrastructure, 2018
  • “Questions of Modernization: Coding Speech, Regulating Attitude in Survey Research” Comparative Studies in Society and History 57 (4), October, 2015