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Diverse landscapes, diverse works: reframing the urban transformation of Çinçin through muhtars, houseworkers, the usta, and the kabadayı

2020
Aykaç, Gülşah
This dissertation presents the sociospatial analysis of a radically transformed gecekondu (squatter housing) zone, Çinçin, through the work experiences of two groups of social actors, muhtars (neighbourhood heads) and houseworkers, and two well-known personalities referred to as the usta (expert craftsman) and the kabadayı (social bandit). Çinçin was one of the first marginal districts of Ankara occupied by Persian Roma in the 1920s; it became a part of the dense urban fabric of gecekondus during the urbanisation period and has faced radical urban transformation since 2005. The methodology varies, including auto-ethnographic mapping, in-depth and biographical interviewing, and literature analysis in order to combine collective spatial narratives and historical data. The concept of coupling diverse landscapes and diverse works is employed to draw a threefold interpretative framework: (I) the history of the land is the history of labour; (II) the division of land is also the division of labour relations; and (III) there is a dialectical relationship between work and urban transformation. Diverse works conceptualised by informants open a discussion about social actors in the making of diverse landscapes, unemployment, and the changing legitimacy of work. The stories of regular actors (muhtars and houseworkers) and radical actors (the usta and the kabadayı) support the threefold framework of the study by unfolding the contradictions of urban transformation and the changing dimensions of work as a biopolitical and sociospatial construct. Ultimately, this research suggests that we need to analyse the dialectical relationship of urban transformation and work considering a multitude of actors in order to propose labour- and community- centred urban design strategies in our era of urban crisis, which is also a crisis of labour relations.