Current Institutional Affiliation
Researcher, Urban Geography, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Geography, University of Minnesota / Twin Cities
Building a "World City:" Urban Entrepreneurialism and the Politics of Segregation in Istanbul

In its attempts to market Istanbul as a 'world city' and attract international business, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is spearheading an ambitious campaign of 'urban transformation'. While the Municipality promotes 'urban transformation' as beneficial for all citizens, tensions between the city's poorest squatter neighborhoods and its proliferating affluent 'gated communities' are escalating. These tensions are most visible around the Municipality's mass housing evictions and the residents' challenges for rights to their neighborhoods located on valuable lands along the northern shores of the Bosphorus and the historic city center. These dynamics are a powerful testament to the growing politics of disenfranchisement fostered by the Municipality’s agenda of 'transforming' the face of Istanbul. To the Municipality, the 'squatter' settlements are 'eyesores' actively undercutting Istanbul's natural status as a 'global city'. Hence, the enforced gentrifications of the city center and the clearance of squatter areas for lucrative re-development along the Bosphorus are seen as necessary for the future of Istanbul. Evoking the "Urban Renewal Law" the Municipality targets dilapidated historic neighborhoods for redevelopment as high-end housing. I will investigate these two processes as lenses into the politics of urban segregation in Istanbul, concentrating on the dynamics of grassroots contestations of the Municipality's entrepreneurial agenda. My ethnographic fieldwork focuses on two neighborhoods: Fatih Sultan Mehmet (FSM), a site of squatter redevelopment project located at the north-western shore of the Bosphorus; and Sulukule, a neighborhood at the city center inhabited by the Roma minority for more than a thousand years which was recently declared a site of 'urgent expropriation'. My research will utilize mixed methods strategy combining textual analysis, archival work, expert-interviews and ethnography with geographical information systems (GIS).