Pelin Tan

Neighborhood Resistances and Possibilities of Counter- Cultural Urban Spaces in Istanbul
soft activism, counter-cultural urban spaces, istanbul, neoliberal uneven urbar developtment, neighborhood

The habitants of several districts of Istanbul and the local municipalities have been in a process of debate and conflict since the last few years. A lot of districts like Sulukule, which are economically disadvantaged and ethnically marked, are under the focus of the local municipalities for urban transformation. Here, the urban transformation means not to upgrade the physical environment of a certain rundown district and its social condition, but to replace the habitants and apply projects that are valuable for the urban market. Since the last three years, the neighbourhoods have been uniting for solidarity to defend their rights of dwelling. With the collaboration of several academics, independent researchers, artists and others, the association of neighbourhoods is looking to create counter-cultural urban spaces that are not only representing spaces for discussing the rights of dwelling but also reconstructing a social-collective everyday life.

My main focus is on how cultural interventions and gestures can stimulate urban counter-cultural spaces in an urban context, on how institutional critique can play a role in this counter-cultural discourse, and on how and where the activists and habitants can create the participation and the common ground for representing the neighbourhoods. Soft forms of activism in urban neighbourhoods could be a description of what is going on in Istanbul regarding urban oppositional movements.

Pelin Tan, sociologist/art historian. Phd candidate and research assistant at the Institute of Social Sciences, Graduate Studies of History of Art, Architecture Faculty, ITU, Istanbul. Visiting guest professor at der Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Nürnberg - Architektur und Stadtforschung, Master of Architecture. Co-editor of Muhtelif non-profit contemporary art magazine. Editor with Sezgin Boynik of the book: Public Space Discussion in Contemporary Art, Bilgi Univ. publication, 2007. Guest editor of the Journal of Re-Thinking Marxism, NY, 2009. Board member of Istanbul Human Settlement Association (IYD) and member of Sulukule Platform (an urban activist platform.)

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