Exploring and deciphering the global cityscapes: the case of Istanbul
The presentation focuses upon the distinctive characteristics of the social and economic geography of the city of Istanbul, which, for specific historical and methodological reasons, remained up to surprisingly recent times as a terra incognita for a major part of its students. It might be surprising to know that today’s global city- undeniably one of the largest and most important in south eastern Europe – Istanbul, had as late as early 1950’s, a population of approximately one million ! Urban historians set aside, even few would know that the city had a slightly higher population at the turn of the 20th century and that in 1907 it had an even higher population size (1.2 million), and finally, the Soviet Revolution, Great Depression, and the proclamation of Ankara as the new capital city, gave decisive coups de grace for its stagnant economy.
The rapid and contiguous urban growth processes observed during the glorious thirties have remained to a large extent within existing city boundaries and constituted the existing dense urban fabric -the uninterrupted ocean of roofs one sees in Google Earth images.
Subsequent to a brief overview of its turning points in its turbulent urban history, the presentation will focus upon the factors, constraints, impetuses, and challenges that lie beyond, this multifaceted complex socio-spatial formation of today’s global city, as well as upon new data analysis and mapping technologies that facilitate its representation. I consider more specifically the economic and political regime of accumulation adopted after the Second World War as one of the root causes of The City of Squatters, Shared Taxis and Street Vendors characterizing Istanbul during the period of national development (i.e. 1960’s and 70’s).
This particular regime of accumulation was, to a large extent, dismantled after the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, as a consequence of shy decentralization, but vibrant urban regeneration processes of last two decades, its traces are still visible in urban morphology. The presentation will end with a slide show on emerging social and economic strata and assemblages, the continuities and changes, and distinctive and latent patterns of the social economic and electoral geography of Istanbul.
BIO | Murat Güvenç was born in Ankara in 1953. Studied Urban and Regional Planning in Middle East Technical University . Taught courses on Methodology, Urban Geography and Planning Theory at METU and in Istanbul Bilgi, and Bosphorous Universities. His academic interests concentrate upon Intra-metropolitan Industrial Geography, Urban Ecology and Urban Sociology and Urban History. He carried out research projects on Urban History, co-authored a book on the institutional history of The Real Estate Bank of Turkey (Emlak Bankası 1926-1998) and the Electoral Atlas of Turkey 1950-2009, and curate the Economic and Social Geography section of the Istanbul 1910-2010 exposition, sponsored under the Istanbul 2010 European Cultural Capital of Europe program. He is actually the director of the Center for Urban Research in Istanbul Sehir University.