Secil Binboga

Doctoral Candidate, ArchitectureUniversity of Michigan

Award Information

2016 IDRF Program

Art History/ArchitectureUniversity of Michigan

Unsettled Geographies: Cold War Politics of “Space-Making” and “Scale-Making” in Turkey

The Cold War period, marked by a US-sponsored agrarian revolution, ushered in a new era of development in the history of nation-state building in Turkey. A major characteristic of this era was the advancement of regional planning as a technical discourse, one that identified "the region" as a key spatial form of national progress. My dissertation investigates how the changing powers of world economy—from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana—injected the idea of regional development into the Mediterranean-Middle Eastern context. By looking at the planning concepts, projects and methods deployed by national and supranational agencies, I will examine the making of the region, known as "Çukurova." Given its location at the intersecting territories of the Mediterranean, Kurdistan, and Syria, Çukurova helps reveal the complex spatiotemporal politics of development in a much larger context. Drawing on critical theories on human geography, I employ the category of region to build a multi-scalar historical investigation for addressing significant problems of development, urbanization, and migration. My project thus dismantles the bounded spatiality of Çukurova into three major spatiotemporal scales intrinsic to its formation: "the Mediterranean World," "the Çukurovan agrarian space," and "nomadic laborer." I argue that these three scales were co-constitutive in making Çukurova a region. Questioning the ideological and economic dynamics that accompanied Turkey's assimilation into both the new Middle East and the American sphere of influence, my project situates Çukurova within a geopolitical framework of Cold War space-making and scale-making practices. I hope to develop a historical perspective that enables a comprehensive understanding of the interconnections between development and ongoing processes of violence, displacement and injustice in this area.