Istanbul Protests Reflect Tensions over Urban, and Societal, Transformations

The protests that've gripped Istanbul, and several other Turkish cities in recent days, reflect tensions over the 'autocratic ambitions' of the country's government and the cultural transformations it has pushed through grand redevelopment projects.

With plans for the world’s largest airport, the country’s biggest mosque, and the redevelopment of Taksim Square into “a Las Vegas of Ottoman splendor” underway, or on the drawing board, Istanbul is undergoing a remarkable transformation. "For many Turks, though, the development is not so much progress as a reflection of growing autocratic ambitions by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government," reports Tim Arango. 

"The swiftly changing physical landscape of Istanbul symbolizes the competing themes that undergird modern Turkey — Islam versus secularism, rural versus urban," he adds. "For many, it has also created a sense of resentment and loss — for longtime residents, urban intellectuals and many members of the underclasses who are being pushed from their homes so that upscale housing complexes and shopping malls can be built."

“The Istanbul that we grew up with is lost,” says Ara Guler, a photographer famous for his black-and-white photographs of Istanbul’s cityscapes. “Where is my Istanbul? It’s all about the money.”

Thanks to Bora Mici

Full Story: Protests in Turkey Reveal a Larger Fight Over Identity

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."
$19.95
Women's t-shirt with map of Los Angeles

City T-Shirts for the ladies!

Women's Supersoft CityFabric© Fashion Fit Tees. Now available in six different cities.
$24.00