Erasing Palimpsest City

Boom, bust, and urbicide in Turkey 1

Authored by: Kerem Öktem

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650749
eBook ISBN: 9781315625164
Adobe ISBN:


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Turkey’s cities in the late 2010s face destruction and reconstruction processes that are about to erase the delicate palimpsests of cultural coexistence and historically grounded sociabilities. Characteristic until recently of Turkey’s urban spaces, these complex palimpsests survived the Kemalist Republic’s nation-building in the 1920s and were further enriched by the demographic and cultural changes of Turkey’s dependent development from the 1950s. Case studies of current neo-liberal instances of hyper-development in its Western cities and the much darker urbicide in its south-eastern and Kurdish provinces exemplify core urban development trajectories, where erasing unwanted pasts apparently accompanies or even eclipses immediate concerns of rent maximisation and clientelistic redistribution. The dystopic spatial and discursive arrangements of emerging urban fabric in Turkey’s cities lead to eroding communities and often desperate attempts to recreate a sense of community, history, and identity, where neo-liberal logic and escalation in the scale and scope of the urban form are replacing most human relations with the rules of market transaction in a de-democratising body politic.

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