PERIPHERAL URBANIZATION AND URBAN POLITICS IN THE ISTANBUL CITY-REGION: THE CASE OF GEBZE, 1965-2012
Author: Gundogan, Azat Z, email@example.com
University: State University of New York at Binghamton, USA
Supervisor: Çağlar Keyder
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English
, Urban Politics
Areas of Research:
Regional and Urban Development
, Community Research
, Social Classes and Social Movements
This study is about peripheral urbanization and urban politics in the Istanbul city-region. Using a multi-disciplinary methodological approach, including archival research, participant observation, and in-depth interviews, this dissertation examines the relationship between the organization of urban space and urban social movements within the context of Turkey’s integration into world-markets after World War II. The study focuses on one of the satellite cities of Istanbul named Gebze, located just southeast of Istanbul on the Sea of Marmara. Gebze turned into a gigantic satellite city with a million people after the drastic inflow of industry from inner-city Istanbul, a substantial increase in migrant labor from all over Turkey, and ever-growing social and environmental problems since the 1960s.
The study argues that the predominant emphasis of centrality in the studies of global cities and city-regions puts the socio-spatial and political transformations in the peripheries at the background. However, global city formation as a centralized process relies on the accelerated suburbanization of the global city region. Therefore, this study looks at Istanbul’s peripheries and highlights Gebze as its gigantic industrialized neighbor that has emerged and grown under Istanbul’s development. Despite being labeled as merely the “backwater” of Istanbul, this satellite city has always been a hotbed of social and political contestations, ranging from unionized labor movement in the 1970s to the recent protests against top-down urban regeneration projects.
This study demonstrates the changing forms of social movements in Gebze through focusing on three emblematic cases. As an industrial city of the national development era, Gebze became the hotbed of the unionized labor movement, and the emblematic collective action of the Great Resistance of the 15-16 June 1970. At the juncture of the neoliberalization and the end of developmentalism, and within the context of austerity programs, diminished public employment and revoked state benefits, Gebze witnessed the occupation of its downtown by 700 laid-off municipal workers in 1994. The emblematic political mobilization of the neoliberal era in Gebze is community mobilization (2009) against the urban transformation project (UTP) in a squatter neighborhood located on the outskirts of Istanbul and Gebze.