Thursday, January 19, 2012

De-spatialized Space as Neoliberal Utopia: Gentrified İstiklal Street and Commercialized Urban Spaces

by Yaşar Adnan Adanalı

Today İstanbul ranks seventh among world cities in the number of foreign visitors and international meetings it hosts and fifth in the number of dollar millionaires living within its premises.[2] It is possible to list many other striking statistics about İstanbul. What these numbers indicate is that İstanbul is moving at a fast pace towards becoming a global city and it finds its place in the world city map as a global magnet of capital and people. “Global city” is a project made possible via the reproduction of the city in the framework of processes of capitalist accumulation and mechanisms of neoliberal production and consumption. This project consists of spatial, economic and social processes as well as those that are by content and application political.
Istiklal Street, Istanbul, Turkey, photo by Augapfel
Although İstanbul’s current transformation has been presented as a non-Western miracle of development in the face of the destructive effects of economic crises, it is actually possible to think of this transformation as a “skillful” application of well-known global(urban)ization strategies by an alliance formed between the state, the capital and local governments: (a) The segmentation of the city into detached islands through the construction of profitmaking fragments of the global urbanization catalogue, such as shopping malls, gated communities, mass housing settlements (TOKİ: Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Housing Development Administration of Turkey), residences, plazas, airports, techno parks, golf courts, cruise harbors; (b) rendering lower and middle classes “powerless” in the face of this transformation by means of forced evictions and legal pressure in order to secure the land necessary for the construction of these urban fragments; such that social and class-based segregation is conducted alongside spatial segregation; (c) the production of urban corridors and transportation infrastructures that will facilitate the flow of capital, goods and humans between these fragments of the urban catalogue. Consequently, while prioritizing the city of fluxes composed of corridors to the city of integrated urban spaces, İstanbul’s global(urban)ization project constructs wealthy spaces  on the sites of poor spaces. Lower class neighborhoods inhabited by the city’s poorest, which at time same time carry the highest potential in terms of the rising value of urban land, are refashioned by local municipality-private sector partnerships and allotted to new İstanbulites with highest cultural and economic capital (such as local and foreign executives working in sectors that are in great demand in the post-industrialist era like finance, design and informatics, as well as professionals of the institutionalized field of arts and culture).
The aforementioned strategies can be explained with reference to gentrification processes inherent to neoliberal urban transformation. While these processes construct new wealthy spaces and forge new socio-spatial relationships, they are abstracted from the concrete space where the transformation is taking place; they are (de-spatialised).

Istiklal Street, Istanbul, Turkey, photo by Mrmya

Istiklal Street, Istanbul, Turkey, photo by Mrmya

Istiklal Street, Istanbul, Turkey, photo by Vince Millett

Istiklal Street, Istanbul, Turkey, photo by bluedvls11

Istiklal Street, Istanbul, Turkey, photo by emredjan

more about Istanbul:

Globalisation, Cleaner Energy and Mega-Cities: Options and Messages for Turkey/Istanbul

Modeling street connectivity, pedestrian movement and land-use according to standard GIS street network representations: A Comparative Study


Polycentric Urban Development and Istanbul

No comments:

Post a Comment