Ayse Taspinar: Istanbul has long been the center of civilizations. After establishment of republican Turkey, with the focus on creation of a new nation, the Ottoman past was targeted to be abolished from the collective memory. Since Istanbul, as the capital of Ottoman Empire, is associated too much with the Ottoman past, the new state did not invest in Istanbul. However, it has always received a special interest from a lot of different people. Istanbul is now a kind of open museum for researchers or adventurous people, and an enormous potential market for business. However, since it has become a more and more crowded city and globalization has increased, there is a strong need to do something to create social inclusion and integration.
Beyoğlu: a place where the police cannot enter
The district of Beyoğlu reflects the whole transformation
process of the late Ottoman period and republican
Turkey. Beyoğlu, which was once called Pera, is established by
a non-muslim population consisting of Levantines from the
bourgeoisie class and foreign state officers. In the late Ottoman
period, it became the symbol of “modern´way of living with its
cosmopolite inhabitants. After establishment of the republic and
due to a world conjunction, many of the non-muslims migrated from
Istanbul. During this process of Turkification of the country,
there emerged some brutal conflicts such as the 6-7 September
events that targeted houses and properties of inhabitants. Those
events brought about dramatic changes in the composition of
Transformation of the neighbourhood Tarlabasi in Istanbul
What has caused salient change in the characteristic of Beyoğlu
are gentrification attempts of neo-liberal policies. The most
visible result is the transformation of Tarlabasi, a neighbourhood
within Beyoğlu. After the establishment of Tarlabasi Boulevard in
the 80´s, it caused a complete segregation from the center. Now
Tarlabasi is “the place where the police cannot enter´ with
socially marginalized and economically disintegrated people, whose
needs are immediate. It hosts refuges and sexually marginalized
people as well. Recently, it is exposed to another urban
gentrification policy which could cause sheltering problems for
Money is not the solution to social exclusion
On the other hand, since there is a good academic criticism in Turkey on any issue, all of them mostly pay attention to historical and theoretical explanation of current conflicts in Tarlabasi. It makes the problem too generalized and homogeneous to call Tarlabasi just a slum or the inhabitants marginalized people. The dynamics of the conflicts in Tarlabasi are quite intermingled, such as structural deprivation, ethnic polarization, gender, human trafficking, consumption of drugs, and child abuse issues. But it is crucial to note that, a good analysis of the conflict does not present us the solution automatically. For example, maybe most conflicts derive from economic reasons. However we cannot solve traumatized or abused people’s problems only by distributing money.
Need for a common solution instead of justifying historical debates
In order to create a relational transformation and integration of the city there is a strong need to sustain further ethnographic studies which is the only way to discover the real demands of the inhabitants. Meaning, instead of only sustaining structural changes, we need to discover the social fabric of particular districts so as to develop specific conflict resolution strategies. In that way, we get to know more about:
- the way of networking to reveal the inhabitants needs in a better way;
- troubles of males and transgender people, re-considering gender issue which only focuses on “women and children-debate;
- how inhabitants position themselves as a citizen within both Istanbul and Turkey;
- expectations about the future.
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