Istanbul Gezi Park Resistance movement as public engagement in the making of place

Murat Germen
Full-time instructorSabanci UniversityTURKEY
muratgermen@sabanciuniv.edu
Turkey has proved to be one of the fast developing countries until the end of 2013.The economic boom, that started to stagnate by the beginning of 2014, wasaccompanied by a very large construction activity. Turkey is a country where majorearthquakes took / still take place. The new intense construction activity was called“urban transformation” by the government and the claim was to replace the wornbuilding stock that cannot survive strong earthquakes. As the transformationdeveloped, it turned out this building activity was more meant for excessive profitand not better urban environments.The buildings to be destroyed were cheaply bought from the owners; flats in newerand higher buildings that replaced the old ones were sold tenfold more expensive ormore. Inhabitants of neighborhoods to be gentrified were never asked about their preferences and they ended up being losers in the game, in terms of earning muchless and losing their mostly natal properties. In addition to such individual losses,cities of high historical significance like Istanbul were affected by this fierce,ruthless construction activity. The skylines of various neighborhoods in Istanbul started to be disrupted by high-rise buildings; some communal green areas wererelentlessly sacrificed for inhumane housing projects.This study and the resulting paper will focus on this issue in two phases. First phasewill be documenting and spotting the problems within the city of Istanbul, where theauthor lives and documents the city regularly as a professional photographer andartist. The second phase will be to conduct a research on how public engagementcan be introduced in the making of place in Istanbul. The recent Gezi Park Resistance that took place in Istanbul sparkled the participatory, collaborative policy / place making efforts and made conscious people motivated about shapingtheir own lives, cities.
Keywords:Urban transformation, collective placemaking, collaboration, politicalresistance movement, Gezi Park movement, social media, instant communication, public art
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