‘Our city is our identity!’: a field study on Kurdish local government experiences in Diyarbakır
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In this paper, I analysed the neoliberal and socio-spatial transformations occurring in Diyarbakır, the largest Kurdish city of Turkey. Rather than discussing the involvement of various national and international actors in those transformation processes, I tried to focus on the attitudes of the local social and political dynamics that create strong discursive counter-arguments against these processes. The study aims to demonstrate that dissident libertarian and egalitarian local groups can also become the supporters of and the actors in the neoliberal space strategies. In this regard, I examined the transformation of space in Diyarbakır considering the tense and opposed relationship between neoliberal strategies and the local political formations mobilized by the demands for collective identity. Data acquired from the field study on the local governance experience in Diyarbakır demonstrate that populist calls based on cultural existence became the focal point of local government. The slogan of “Our city is our identity!” functions as a meta-narrative that articulates the different class identities into neoliberal urban reality and becomes a discursive centre which normalizes the exclusive occupations over space.
KeywordsNeoliberal urbanization Kurdish movement Space Cultural identity Diyarbakır
This study was supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. Thanks to their support, I have been at SOAS as a visiting scholar. Furthermore, I would like to thank my supervisor Dr Adam Hanieh for his solidarity during my stay at SOAS.
The funding was provided by Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştirma Kurumu (Grant No. 2219).
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