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Accepted Papers:

Landscape, Territoriality and National Identity: Contested Notions of Spatial Belonging in the Making of Hatay  


José Rafael Medeiros Coelho (Boğaziçi University)

Paper Short Abstract:

The aim of this ethnography of landscape and territorial governance is to demonstrate how the local Arab Alawite population of Defne, is now in the process of negotiating and reclaiming the legitimacy of its sense of belonging and cultural citizenship during everyday spatial and social practices.

Paper long abstract:

The AKP's (Justice and Development Party) new metropolitan municipality system, Law No. 6360 in Turkey, has fostered the emergence of new urban issues regarding the legitimacy of local and national discourses of identity formation and spatial belonging in the daily lives of the Arab Alawite population of the city of Defne, in Hatay. As a result, Defne is a new, ethnically segregated district that has been crafted out of a few of the main central neighborhoods, once a portion of Antioch's previous town planning.Therefore, the aim of this study is to demonstrate how the population of Defne, is now in the process of negotiating and reclaiming the legitimacy of its spatial and cultural citizenship. Consequently, this research provides an ethnography of landscape and territorial governance by blending observational techniques, based in-depth interviews and discourse analysis. The fieldwork research was conducted in Defne, 2019. In total, forty people were interviewed. According to the data points, the AKP's decentralization reform (Bayraktar & Massicard, 2012) and national discourses of cultural politics (Tambar, 2014; White, 2012) in Hatay, Defne's landscape appears as a new, yet symbolic constructed public space (Ben Rafael, 2009) that involves the Arab Alawite community's contestation of their cultural identity (Hall, 1990) and sense of spatial belonging. Moreover, the Arab Alawites are acting collectively as a new municipality power and, as aware citizens, are negotiating and reclaiming their cultural citizenship by contesting national notions of territorial governance through everyday spatial practices within the public space.

panel U04
Urban borderlands at the crossroads of anthropology and geography: spatiality, perceptions and social reproduction in a multiscalar perspective