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Accepted Paper:

Behind the Scaffolding in Tarlabaşı, Istanbul: Manipulations of Time, Delays, and Power  


Alize Arican (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Paper Short Abstract:

In Taksim 360, Istanbul's first and imminently ongoing urban transformation project, delays are the crucial means through which power works among construction experts and politicians. I argue that delays are the modus operandi of urban expertise rather than signs of its failures.

Paper long abstract:

Taksim 360, located in the Tarlabaşı neighborhood of Istanbul, is one of the first state-led urban transformation projects in Turkey. Originally scheduled to be finished in 2014, the project is still very much under construction. Concordant with broader discussions on urban transformation, various scholars have studied Tarlabaşı's urban transformation through spatial analytical approaches centered on marginalization, accumulation by dispossession, and displacement. Yet urban transformation projects and urban expertise do not necessarily follow a linear trajectory from inception to completion.

I examine the relationships between construction companies, subcontractors, and political involved in Taksim 360 through ethnographic fieldwork and media analysis over time, with a critical emphasis on temporality. I argue that urban transformation in fact works through manipulations of time, which necessitates a temporal analytical lens that does not take teleologies of buildings projects for granted. It is specifically through delays that economic and political power is exerted, navigated, and negotiated within Taksim 360 among experts using legal contracts, work stoppages and stand-offs; conjuring of continued investment; and improvisations with labor and political capital. And so, extended temporalities of delays emerge as modus operandi of urban transformation rather than measures of its failures or successes, calling for an increased attention to temporality to understand how power works among urban experts.

Panel R012
Contested times of urban expertise