Leyla Neyzi was born in Istanbul, Turkey, the daughter of Ali H. Neyzi, a businessman and writer, and Olcay Neyzi, a pediatrician. After graduating from Robert College of Istanbul, she studied Anthropology at Stanford University (B.A. 1982) and Development Sociology at Cornell University (Ph.D. 1991). She worked as an assistant professor at Bosphorus University, (1992-1994) and as the Oral History Project Director, Economic and Social History Foundation (1995-1996). She currently teaches Anthropology at Sabancı University.
Leyla Neyzi produced a notable series of studies based on the diaries of Yaşar Paker, who issued from the tiny Jewish community of early 20th century Ankara, and who was twice enrolled in the labor battalions in Turkey, the first time during the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) and the second time during the Second World War (in which Turkey did not take part). One of these studies was published in Jewish Social Studies in Fall 2005
- Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award, Middle East Studies Association of North America, 1992.
- Research Award, Population Council Middle East Awards Program, 1998-1999 (Family History, Generation and Identity in Turkey).
- Research Award, Sabanci University, 2003-2004, (An Oral History of the Neighborhood of Teşvikiye).
- Visiting Scholar, Oxford University Programme on Contemporary Turkey and St. Antony's College, Senior Associate Member, 2004.
- Strong as Steel, Fragile as a Rose: A Turkish Jewish Witness to the Twentieth Century a paper by Leyla Neyzi based on Yaşar Paker's diary, published in the Jewish Social Studies in Fall 2005
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