Cosmopolitan facades: historical diversity as a tool of exclusion and destruction in the tarlabaşı urban renewal project
Crummey, Nicholas Mazer (2016) Cosmopolitan facades: historical diversity as a tool of exclusion and destruction in the tarlabaşı urban renewal project. [Thesis]
The urban renewal project being undertaken in Tarlabaşı, Istanbul proclaims itself to be honoring the history of the neighborhood’s late Ottoman “multicultural” population through historical renovation and renewal. The project, a public-private partnership tied closely to the governing Justice and Development Party, presents an understanding of history at odds with the previously dominant nationalist narrative, by emphasizing a past diversity lost to poor political decisions. In this thesis I take a close look at this narrative of lost cosmopolitanism, exploring the pasts it summons, the future it envisions, and the ways in which it is used as a tool of exclusion in the present. I engage with theory on nostalgia and the malleability of the past, as well as literature on gentrification and the use of diversity as a market tool which simultaneously celebrates and destroys that diversity. I analyze the discourse around the project through newspaper articles, marketing materials, and the public statements of politicians and developers. I find that the project envisions a “return” to an imagined version of the late-Ottoman neighborhood of global capitalist consumption and European diversity. This is to be accomplished through the clearing away of the current undesirable population, and through destroying and selectively rebuilding the facades of the local building stock, which is perceived to be incorrectly inhabited and thus shows physical signs of “misuse” that are to be removed.
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