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Banu Gökariksel
Banu Gökariksel

Banu Gökariksel, a geographer whose interdisciplinary research examines religion and gender in politics, public life and identity formation, has been appointed the Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education. Her three-year appointment begins July 1.

Gökariksel will lead the Royster Society of Fellows, The Graduate School’s most selective fellowship program. Since 1996, more than 700 graduate students in programs campus-wide have pursued their doctoral education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as members of the Royster Society.

Marsha Collins, a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member since 1988, has served as Royster Distinguished Professor since January 2016.

Gökariksel is an associate professor in UNC-Chapel Hill’s geography department, where she has served as the director of graduate studies. A faculty member since 2005, she has a joint appointment in the Curriculum in Global Studies. Gökariksel also holds an adjunct appointment in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies at Duke University. She is the co-editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies.

Among her honors are the University’s 2017 Chapman Family Teaching Award and the 2018 American Association of Geographers’ Enhancing Diversity Award.

Gökariksel’s work has traced the effects of the resurgence of Islamic politics and capitalism in the way people live and relate to one another in Turkey, where she has been conducting fieldwork research since 1996. Her current project examines how the influx of Syrian refugees and the increasing emphasis on a Sunni Muslim identity in public life are contributing to growing tensions among neighbors in cities across Turkey. Her transnational approach also brings her analysis of political dynamics in Turkey into conversation with those in the United States and Europe.

“Banu crosses many disciplines and seeks many ways of examining identity to deepen our understanding of how individuals navigate private and public spaces,” said Jennifer Gerz-Escandón, associate dean for interdisciplinary education and fellowship programs at The Graduate School. “Her commitment to teaching – to graduate students – is just as inspiring as her research. She provides an ideal role model for our Royster fellows, who come from many programs campus-wide and seek to learn from each other.”

Gökariksel said the Royster Society of Fellows is unique in supporting students’ success within their academic programs and also stressing an interdisciplinary approach to teaching, research and public service.

“My goals include building the Royster Society’s Royster Global initiative, deepening interdisciplinary intellectual engagement, enhancing diversity, and developing the ways in which the Royster Society contributes to our campus and beyond,” Gökariksel said.

Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Royster’s generous gifts established the interdisciplinary Royster Society of Fellows. In 2009, UNC-Chapel Hill established the term professorship, made possible by a lead gift from the Roysters and matching funds from the state’s faculty endowment trust.

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