Accessibility statement

State-led gentrification and contested reframings of citizenship in Turkey

Wednesday 6 November 2019, 3.00PM to 5pm

A central concern in scholarship on neoliberal urbanism is the state-led facilitation of market expansion that dwelsl on the growth of the penal wing of the state, and also softer forms of power that focus less on displacing, and more on civilizing residents by managing low levels of aspiration so making them more aligned with neoliberal consumerism. Noting the role of the state in this process, these accounts have largely fallen short of analysing the political sphere of state action. Using the case of Turkey, a country suffering from growing authoritarianism in the last decade, this talk sheds light into the ways state ideology operates alongside that of the market, and often takes precedence over it.

Through textual analysis of media material including political speeches, local and national mainstream newspaper news and municipal newsletters, Dr Yardimici discloses that the current ‘urban transformation campaign’ has been instrumentalized by the state actors in Turkey to both construct a progressively centralized urban regime, and at the same time communicate its normative constructions of citizenship, defined on the basis of a sense to conform to the state authority, and policies by stigmatizing alternative and opposing claims over housing. 

Drawing on a conceptualisation of citizenship as a struggle zone in which the normative framings of being an insider are constantly remade (Isin, 2009), Dr Yardimici also looks at the ways multiple social groups involved in urban transformation mobilise different understandings of citizenship that coalesce and contest the official notion. To illustrate this, she presents materials from the nine-month fieldwork period in the Dikmen Valley urban transformation project area in Ankara.

Drawing on interviews with and observations of activist and non-activist squatter dwellers, and middle- and upper-income residents, she highlights how the activist squatter dwellers were denied the legitimacy to claim right over housing and land, which in turn, reveals the power of shared understandings regarding who can properly live in and make claims over the city in facilitating the material transformations and inequalities.

Speaker: Dr Öznur Yardimci

Öznur Yardımcı is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Centre for Urban Research at the University of York. She completed her PhD studies in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University where she focused on state-led gentrification from the perspective of different actors contributing to a deeper insight into the interconnections between current urban, social and political transformations. Her research concerns neoliberal urbanism and territorial stigmatization with a focus on the role of the state, changing class inequalities and relations, and entanglements between struggles over city and citizenship.

Location: W/222, Wentworth College