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Rethinking gentrification in İstanbul through planetary urbanization

2020
Eken, Tuğçe
Drawing on an emerging epistemological stance that reworks Henri Lefebvre’s notion of planetary urbanization, this dissertation responds to recent calls for the examination of the geography of gentrification. It does so through the case of the Airport and Airport City Project, which have been constructed on an erstwhile rural settlement, forest, and mining area along the northern coast of İstanbul. On this basis, this study aims to reveal the complex relations hidden behind the concrete abstraction in order to understand the nuanced way of gentrification in Turkey, which is thought to be dialectically enmeshed within the broader totality. The dissertation begins by offering a process-oriented epistemological framework that explodes the inherent binaries (periphery/center, rural/urban) in the analysis of gentrification, building on the planetary urbanization thesis. Through this epistemological stance, the study builds its own research methodology, drawing on Lefebvre’s social levels of G, M, and P and his notion of concrete abstraction. In this way, it extends the planetary urbanization thesis through an inextricable engagement with struggle and everyday life. Furthermore, the integration of the notion of concrete abstraction as an analytical category allows this study to examine the thing/process dialectic on different scales. Mediating between theory and concrete research, the dissertation goes on to examine the operationalization of abstract conceptualization in response to the place-specific trajectory of the gentrification process in Turkey. Through re-scaling its research methodology, the dissertation provides empirical evidence from the Third Airport and Airport City Project in İstanbul. In so doing, it aims at recasting gentrification as being intrinsic to planetary urbanization rather than a detached concept that exists in only some neighborhoods.