Urban regenerations as the profit gaining mechanisms of neoliberal urbanism: an ethnographic case study into the Karapınar Valley Regeneration Project in Eskişehir, Turkey
(University of Vienna)
Paper short abstract:
Urban regenerations have appeared as the significant profit tools of neoliberal urbanism in Turkey. My case study in Karapınar reveals the profit making mechanisms of a regeneration project under the name of "social housing" while the locals face financial woes and eviction threats.
Paper long abstract:
Since the 1980s, the neoliberal turn in the Turkish economy introduced new urban strategies in cities. Poor and slum neighborhoods, which were not seen as a means for regenerations before, have become the targets of profitable urban renewal projects. Moreover, Mass Housing Administration (TOKİ) has become the superpower of numerous regeneration projects which have resulted in state led gentrification, eviction of locals, and social exclusion of lower income households. My case study of the Karapınar Regeneration Project of a 48 hectare zone in the city of Eskişehir was introduced in 2011 with the collaboration of TOKİ, private sectors and one of the provincial municipalities. Through discourses on provision of "social housing" and "regeneration on-site", the project asserts to "clean" the zone while creating a social and income "diversity". The project constructs luxury villas, a five star hotel, and commerce and shopping centers next to the 10-11 storey apartments that have been built for the locals. Yet the locals have monthly payments to TOKİ depending on the size and legality of their previous houses. My ethnographic research reveals the enormous political and financial profits that the partners of the project gain whereas many of the locals are already worried about the payment difficulties and the new living conditions in the multi-storey buildings next to rich newcomers. Some have already decided to move elsewhere at the outskirts of the city. As the squatters claim, missions of "diversity" and "regeneration on-site" have only been to sugarcoat forthcoming evictions.
Urban space under (re)construction: affective and economic geographies under rapid social change