Accepted Paper:

Landscapes of Purity and Pollution: Contest over Value and Garbage in Istanbul.   


Aylin Yildirim Tschoepe (University of BaselHGK FHNW)

Paper short abstract:

Cultural production of social landscapes is defined through purity and pollution. Top-down transformation is contested by insurgent urban practices, identities and tactical urbanism from below. Contest opens up avenues to deconstruct and renegotiate social relations and understanding of urban space.

Paper long abstract:

The cultural production of material, spatial and social landscapes of Istanbul is defined along the lines of purity and pollution through current biopolitics and governmental practices, leading to urban and social transformation. These landscapes transform through the competition of traditional/ non-municipal with municipal garbage management, but also various forms of insurgent urban practices, identities and tactical urbanism. Existing and newly emerging actors play a key role in redefining the flexible boundaries between value and garbage.

In this research, I focus on practices around garbage picking, recycling and greening the city. While most are familiar with the Turkish government's course of action against oppositional voices in education, journalism, politics and business, fewer are aware of the eviction of "invisible" groups from the inner-city of Istanbul, such as the garbage pickers. They often consist of ethnic minorities, migrants, refugees the urban poor, in short: the non-white (non-) Turks, and are targets of biopolitical and spatial restructuring. Their practice, supported by other forms of tactical urbanism, takes creative ways of development from below and efficient forms of recycling; the voices of resistance, however, are diminishing and silenced under the growing power differential between government and these groups. This could only come to a halt if more inclusive, democratic processes are enabled toward just city-making. I aim to show the danger of policies that engage spatial cleansing with the outcome of ethnic cleansing, but also how this redefinition and contest open up avenues to deconstruct and renegotiate social relations and understanding of urban space.

Panel Urba01
Urban development from below