Arzu Ünal is a social anthropologist and post doctoral fellow at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR). She received her PhD from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in 2013. Her work addresses the diverse and changing sartorial practices of Turkish-Dutch Muslim women, and based on multi-sited ethnographic research her thesis re-articulates Muslim sartorial practices as inherently related to the dilemmas of everyday clothing, and emphasizes that women make choices informed by a wide range of factors, including piety, generation, aesthetics, gender, economic status and social context.
She is currently based in Turkey and conducting her research titled ‘Disengaging Marriage from Motherhood: an ethnographic perspective on midlife single women and single mothers in Turkey’ as part of ERC project Problematizing ‘Muslim Marriages’: Ambiguities and Contestations. Her research aims to understand the shifting meanings of marriage, family and femininity in Turkey through single women’s decoupling of marriage from motherhood. It explores women’s confrontations and negotiations with different groups of people (family, relatives, friends, professional networks, religious circles and the state) and beyond about their strong desire to become mothers as they near the end of the age of fertility. It investigates how women accommodate their desire to become mothers outside the normative expectations of heterosexual marriage and the ways in which women strive to become (different types of) mothers.
Unal, Arzu. Welfare regimes and Biopolitics in Turkey: Lives of Single Mothers and their “Maternal Families”, International Workshop “Inequalities, Peace and Conflict in Turkey”, Stockholm University, Sweden, 9-10 December, 2019.
Unal, Arzu. Festive Occasions and Festive Muslim Dress, 10th LUCIS Annual Conference “Matters of Taste and Style: Muslim Food, Fashion, and Music in Practice”, Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden, Netherlands, 6-7 November 2019.
Unal, Arzu. Welfare regimes and Biopolitics in Turkey: Lives of Single Mothers and their “Maternal Families”, presentation at Musmar Conference: Politics and/of Muslim Marriages, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2-3 July 2019.
Unal, Arzu. Festive Occasions and Festive Muslim Dress: Perceptions of Turkish-Dutch women, International ERC Muslim Marriages Workshop “The Multiple Materialities of Muslim Marriages”. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 13-14 June 2019.
Unal, Arzu. Achieving Maternity Outside Marriage: Turkish Family Law, Single Mothers (by choice) and their Children in Turkey, presentation at INSRUM (International Network for Scholars Researching Unregistered Marriages) 2nd International Conference ‘Muslim Marriages: Plurality of Norms and Practices in Muslim-Majority Contexts’, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 11-12 April 2019.
Unal, Arzu. Disengaging Marriage from Motherhood: an ethnographic perspective on midlife single women and single mothers in Turkey, presentation Sabancı University, Turkey, 15 May 2018.
Unal, Arzu. Narratives of Adoptive Single Mothers in Turkey, presentation Boğaziçi University, Turkey, 17 November 2017.