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CURB Summer term webinars 2: The limits to Urban Revolution: The Transformation of Ankara, Turkey, under the Justice and Development Party

Wednesday 2 June 2021, 12.00PM to 1.00pm

Speaker(s): Mustafa Kemal Bayırbağ (Middle East Technical University), Seth Schindler (University of Manchester) and Mehmet Penpecioğlu (Independent researcher)

Contemporary capitalism is reshaping urban geographies and enrolling historically isolated places into vast urbanized networks that are planetary in scope. We engage with Lefebvrian scholarship focused on the expansive nature of contemporary urbanization and we explore the political processes that instantiate urban transformation. We draw on Lefebvre’s notion of urban revolutions – in plural – to show that he considered comprehensive urban transformation the result of multiple place-based revolutions that are typically driven by a state. We then present Turkey as an example in which the Justice and Development Party embraced an agenda of absolute national development whose primary mechanism was a nationwide urban revolution. We focus on Ankara, which served as a laboratory for urban policy experimentation from 1994 onwards, and we present original research to show how this regime was based on the distribution of short-term gains generated in the course of urban transformation, but its long-term costs became apparent after 2010 and it faced increasingly fierce contestation. This case not only exposes the limits of urban revolution in Turkey, but by focusing on their political dynamics, it also shows that urban revolutions are inherently contingent, uneven and reversible processes.

About the Speakers:

Dr Mustafa Kemal Bayırbağ holds a Bachelor degree in City planning, an MA in Urban Policy and Local governments (both from Middle East Technical University, METU) and a PhD in Public Policy (from Carleton University). His research interests are situated at the intersection of urban/regional studies and public policy. State spatiality and political economy of social exclusion are two underlying themes of his research orientation, cutting across his past and future works on neoliberal urbanization, urban crisis and governance, the BRI, local development, education policy and social policy. He is currently a co-investigator in a research project titled “Turkey’s urbanization-led development strategy: impacts and manifestations in Ankara”, supported via a Newton Advanced Fellowship of the British Academy (housed by Global Development Institute of The University of Manchester). He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at METU.

Dr Seth Schindler earned his PhD in human geography at Clark University, where he researched Delhi’s informal service sector. He subsequently coordinated the MA in Global Studies at Humboldt University of Berlin. He is currently the principal investigator of a comparative research project on deindustrialization in the Global South, and the Co-Director of Research of the African Cities Research Consortium. He is a Senior Lecturer of Urban Development and Transformation in Global Development Institute of University of Manchester.

Dr Mehmet Penpecioğlu graduated from Dokuz Eylül University, Department of City and Regional Planning (2003); received his Master of Regional Planning from Middle East Technical University (2007). His doctoral dissertation analyzed the relationship between neoliberal political hegemony and large-scale urban projects and he received PhD from Middle East Technical University, Department of Urban Policy Planning and Local Governments (2012). He worked in several public institutions and universities; as a city planner at the Ministry of Public Works and Settlement (2008); as a Research Assistant at Middle East Technical University (2009-2012) and as a Lecturer at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (2014). He conducted post-doctoral research at Delft University of Technology OTB - Research for the Built Environment. He worked as an Assistant Professor at Izmir Institute of Technology, Department of City and Regional Planning (2014-2017). As an academician, he gave numerous lectures on urban theory, urban politics, local governance and human geography; conducted extensive research and made several publications. In 2017, he was dismissed from Turkish universities by Decree Law. He continues to actively pursue his academic studies through research projects, lectures, seminars and publications. His current academic interests and fields of study are comparative urban politics, local government policies for Turkey, urbanism in the global south, urban social movements and urban commons.


Location: Online (Zoom). The event is free but registration is required.