Several Forms of Vulnerability, Narratives of Disasters, and So Little Space for Mobilization: A study of an Urban Renewal Project in Turkey
(University of Vienna)
Paper short abstract:
Despite promises of social democratic forms of urban planning, the local population of the Risk Zone Urban Renewal Project in Eskişehir, Turkey has been exposed to multiple forms of vulnerability. This paper investigates lack of resistance and questions role of disaster narratives in this process.
Paper long abstract:
After the 2011 earthquake in Eastern-Anatolia, the national and local governments of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) propounded disaster narratives and a need for creating safer cities through urban renewal projects. Already in 2012, the government enacted a very debatable Law no:6306 - "Renewal Law" - despite large criticisms. In 2013, the Metropolitan Municipality in Eskişehir, ruled by the social democrats (Republican People's Party - CHP) introduced the Risky Zone Urban Renewal Project by utilizing the same law regardless of its politically oppositional stance. Yet the municipality claimed to apply a risk-free, social-democratic, and participatory project which alleged to become a role-model project. Since 2013, however, the planning stages of the project have been secretive, participation promises have been exclusive for upper classes, and the local population will need to make payments of undetermined amounts, facing risks of dispossession and displacement. Over the last five years, the project still has not proceeded with renewal plans and policies, while the locals' properties have been annotated, existing constructions stopped without permission to proceed further, and property buying and selling activities have become almost impossible. Questions also emerged about evictions and resettlement. Despite several forms of vulnerability and ever-lasting waiting period of the local population, however, the project has not inspired collective movements or conflicts. This paper discusses lack of mobilization despite uncertainties of policies and vulnerabilities while asking how disaster narratives influenced the local perception of risk and how alarms about future calamities entangle with positionalities of the local population.
Vulnerability and housing policies: anthropological insights across Europe