Osman Balkan

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, Swarthmore CollegeSenior Fellow, Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, UPenn


Osman Balkan is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College and Senior Fellow at the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His research and teaching focuses on the politics of global migration, race and ethnicity, identity and inequality, Islam in the West, and necropolitics.

His first book manuscript, Dying Abroad: The Political Afterlives of Migration in Europe (under review), explores how minoritized communities navigate end-of-life decisions in countries where they face structural barriers to full citizenship. Building on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Berlin and Istanbul, Dying Abroad illustrates how the seemingly quotidian practices surrounding the death, burial, and repatriation of racial and religious minorities are structured by deeper political questions about the meaning of citizenship, home, and belonging in an increasingly transnational world. 

Balkan's work has appeared and is forthcoming in journals such as Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Project on Middle East Political Science, Theory & Event, Journal of Intercultural Studies, and Contemporary French Civilization. He has published book chapters in edited volumes such as Turkey's Necropolitical Laboratory: Democracy, Violence, and Resistance, Muslims in the UK and Europe, and The Democratic Arts of Mourning: Political Theory and Loss.

Balkan is co-founder of the American Political Science Association's Political Ethnography Working Group and has served as an elected member of the Executive Council of APSA's Migration and Citizenship Section (2018 - 2020). Between 2017 - 2019, he was a lead faculty participant in Swarthmore College's Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary Program, a partnership with the City of Philadelphia and recently resettled Syrian and Iraqi nationals that explored art's capacity to create empathy and belonging. In the summer of 2021, Balkan will co-lead an American Political Science Association early career workshop on "Visuality and the Creation of Liminal Spaces of Participation: Ethnographic Approaches to the Middle East and North Africa."

Prior to Swarthmore, Balkan was a Lecturer of Turkish in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University and served as Resident Director of the U.S. State Department's Critical Languages Scholarship Program in Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey.


2016-- Ph.D., Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

2012-- M.A., Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

2005-- B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa), Political Science, Reed College