Playing with Catastrophe: Law, Urban Regenerations and Contestations in Turkey

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Cansu CIVELEK, PhD Candidate, University of Vienna, Social Anthropology, Austria
In the aftermath of the 2011 Van Earthquakes that occurred in the Eastern part of Turkey and killed approximately 600 people, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which imposed profound urban regeneration projects all over Turkey in the last fifteen years, has developed a new rhetoric around the alleged forthcoming fatal earthquakes and vulnerability of towns and cities for the future outcomes of disasters. The AKP, therefore, has been able to instumentalize the past disasters to further urban regenerations and, despite large oppositions, passed a new law, Law No: 6306 “Regeneration of Zones under Risk of Disasters” which opened a direct way to regenerate public and private lands once they are approved to carry “risk”. The new fashionable discourses around “victims” of catastrophes and “salvation” of “vulnerable” settlements have spread to local governments to push opportunities for urban regenerations. My paper will present three case studies from Eskişehir which have been initiated by two different municipalities ruled by AKP and Republican People’s Party (CHP). Although, CHP was one of the oppositional body which criticized the Law No: 6306, we see cases where the same party utilizes the same law in the municipal level. In my presentation, I will show how centrally produced discourses have been penetrated into municipalities of different political views and what kind of contestations started to take place among the inhabitants of the three neighborhoods about whether the zones carry real risk of disasters, how they can manage to pay monthly payments to the regenerated housing units, or whether they would be displaced out from their neighborhoods.