Serkan Yolaçan’s research broadly focuses on the interplay of past and present in the lives of individuals, diasporas, and states. His book project, Time Travelers of Baku: Conversion and Revolution in West Asia, weaves the modern experiences of Turkey, Iran, and Russia through the lens of a mobile, diasporic people from the region of Azerbaijan. In this work, Yolaçan reveals the Azeris’ deep historical roots within each country and shows how shared pasts allow for the cross-pollination of ideas among neighboring realms, languages, and even religions, especially in times of opening or crisis. By placing mobile Azeris at the center of three major states, he ties together their near-synchronous transformations from constitutional revolutions at the beginning of the twentieth century to expansionist agendas in the twenty-first.
His second project is a comparative study of cults and messianic movements. It explores how embodied authority, eschatological beliefs, and textual traditions interact to create invisible forms of sovereignty.
In both projects, Yolaçan combines broad space and deep history empirically, and history and anthropology methodologically, to generate geo-historical frames that speak to questions of international order and state expansionism, past and present. He has an active media profile in Southeast Asia through regular contributions to Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post and Singapore-based Channel NewsAsia.