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Divergent responses to urban transformation projects in Turkey: common sense and state affinity in community mobilization

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This article examines the role of state affinity in community struggles against authoritarian, neoliberal urban transformation projects (UTPs) in Turkey. It argues that as neoliberal hegemonic devices, UTPs produce contentious political spaces within which communities negotiate, resist, or comply with state-imposed, pro-market rationales (i.e. common sense). As an alternative to depictions of subaltern communities in mobilization as totally ‘co-opted‘ or ‘victimized‘ in neoliberal renewal or as ’unwilling’ or ’unable’ to produce a collective rights identity, the analysis offers a more complicated picture of community resistance, inactivity, and co-optation. To do this, it adopts a combination of Henri Lefebvre’s theory of production of space and Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony. The analysis is based on the findings from original ethnographic research on two ethnically distinct working-class neighborhoods under UTP threat in Gebze, a satellite city of Istanbul. It compares communities’ affinity with the state-sponsored ideologies (Sunni-Turkish nationalism, neoliberalism) by looking at their ethnic identities and social histories.
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Keywords: Gebze; Urban transformation projects; common sense; hegemony; production of space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA

Publication date: August 9, 2019

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