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Basak Gemici

Basak Gemici is a WCED Postdoctoral Fellow for 2022-24. She is a political sociologist whose research focuses on regime change, authoritarian populism, and conflict in everyday life using feminist research practice. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2022, where she also completed doctoral certificates in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and Cultural Studies. 

Basak is currently working on her book project, "Authoritarian Populism and Conflict in Daily Life," based on field research in Turkey between 2017 and 2019. Drawing on ethnographic data from urban bus rides and interviews, she investigates the gendered, ethno-racial, and spatial organization of authoritarian populism in everyday life. While existing studies emphasize the risk of punishment by state agents, this book demonstrates that civilian disciplinary actions intensify in step with formal state repression under authoritarian populism. Taking the often-overlooked role of ordinary interactions and ordinary perceptions as sites for social change, it finds that authoritarian populism unfolds in daily interactions in forms of boundary negotiations. The book aims to bring new understandings to the global problem of failing democracies by theorizing the interactional forms and effects of authoritarian populism with a focus on how historically minoritized and marginalized groups, e.g., Kurds and women in the Turkish case, experience and respond to these effects. Doing so makes a timely contribution to the growing understanding of failed democratization processes across scholarly disciplines and as a matter of public curiosity. 

As a WCED fellow, Basak will expand the scope of the country cases that the book covers and continue to prepare articles on clashing understandings of democracy in everyday life, methodological advancements of mobile ethnographies, and politics of fun in social media under authoritarian regimes. Basak is also a research affiliate at the Gender Inequality Research Lab (GIRL), University of Pittsburgh, and the Collaboratory Against Hate Research and Action Center, a co-initiative of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.


  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of Pittsburgh, 2022
  • M.A., Sociology, University of Pittsburgh, 2016
  • B.A., Social and Political Science, Sabanci University, 2012

Awards and Honors

  • Elise Boulding Graduate Student Paper Award Honorable Mention, ASA Peace, War, and Social Conflict Section (2021)
  • Norman P. Hummon Memorial Research Award for Outstanding Research, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh (2021)
  • Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellows (2019)
  • Social Science Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (2018)
  • The University of Pittsburgh Ph.D. Fellowship (2014-19)