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Manufacturing and Dismantling Territories in Contemporary Turkey

Submission deadline: October 1, 2015

Editor's notes

Version française également disponible: http://ejts.revues.org/5228

Türkçe çevirisi okumak için: http://ejts.revues.org/5231

Project Outline

Starting from the observation that territorial issues are of increasing significance in Turkish civil society and social sciences, this thematic issue will enquire into how territories in contemporary Turkey are manufactured from an ideological, praxiological, and epistemological point of view.

  • 1 Cf. ‘Les territoires à l’épreuve des changements dans le monde arabe’ [Territories in the face of c (...)

As in other countries around the Mediterranean basin,1 rapid, far-reaching transformations to urban and rural territories have crystallised various sources of opposition to a policy viewed as predatory and brutal. The news is full of denunciations of territorial inequalities and of the confiscation or compulsory purchase of land without prior consultation, from the Çoruh Valley to the olive groves of Yırca in the region of Manisa, without forgetting the urban revolts and protests in Istanbul, all raising the basic issue of the “right to a territory”, as well as bringing out how ambivalent this idea is.

  • 2 Cf. Sezgi Durgun, Memalik-i Sahane’den Vatan’a, Istanbul, İletişim, 2011.
  • 3 There is a debate about this distinction in Turkish. Cf. Aykut Köksal, ‘Bu Mekân Artık Bu Yer Değil (...)
  • 4 Definition of territory given by Bernard Debarbieux, in Lévy J., Lussault M., Dictionnaire de la gé (...)

The Turkish language does not have any signifier equivalent to that of “territory” in Latinate languages, with the term territoryum being used solely in ethology. The State's right over the territory is therefore expressed using national(ist) (ülke, vatan)2 and technocratic language (bölge, topraklar). Right to the territory is signified using sector-specific expressions such as konut barınma hakkı (the right to housing), çevre hakkı (the right to the environment) and, more recently, under the influence of works by Henri Lefebvre and David Harvey amongst others, şehir hakkı (the right to the town). In the absence of a word for territory, it is often the idea of “place” (yer/mekan)3 – partly under the influence of the spatial turn within the English-speaking world – that is adopted as a substitute by activist milieus and the social sciences in Turkey, and used to designate a ‘configuration of symbolic and material resources able to structure the practical conditions for the existence of an individual or social collective and in turn to inform this individual or collective about their identity’.4

  • 5 Here using the definition of megaprojects as ‘projects that rapidly, intentionally, and profoundly (...)

Given that the “local” has been widely taken up by actors and researchers as the reference framework for identity, this issue will enquire into how this reference framework links up with the manufacture of territory on other scales, such as regions and of course the nation. The “local” – set opposite the “mega”5 – comes across as the level of democracy, duly complying with the criteria of the participation of civil society and the defence of the common good. It is only recently, under the influence of international (and in part European) demands, that the concept of “local development” (yerel kalkınma) has been taken up within political discourse – with the AKP having made it a theme of its election campaigns in 2002 and 2004. But it runs up against the obsession with territorial unity and the weight of a developmentalist paradigm conceived by and for the centre, in the supreme interest of the nation, and tending to deny the specificities of the lower levels of region and locality.

  • 6 Referred to in fluctuating terminology: ‘regional inequality’ (bölgesel eşitsizlik), ‘inequality be (...)

In a country where the topographic map is still in the hands of the Army, the “right to the territory” necessarily entails questioning the monopoly it exerts over its representation and designation, as well as the hindrances it imposes to circulation. This issue will thus also examine the role played by contemporary (national and transnational) mobility in producing territories and in shaping perceptions of them. Who is it who manufactures territories and dismantles them? In what way, and with what means? What remains of the State’s role in planning and regulating action? How do political actors in Turkey today together with experts, activists, and scientists think of territory, of its extent, dynamics, and disparities6?

Submission Guidelines and Time Frame

Proposals for papers (abstracts of around 300 words, including affiliation and appropriate contact information) should reach the editors at secretariat.ejts[at]gmail.com before 1 October 2015. The deadline for final submission of selected papers is 1 February 2016. Contributions may be written in Turkish, English, French, or German. Authors should comply with the indications given by the European Journal of Turkish Studies (http://ejts.revues.org/48). Maps, charts and other illustrations are most welcome. Papers will be reviewed by the editors and two anonymous referees, with an expected publication date of autumn 2016.

EJTS generally publishes articles that range from 8,000 to 10,000 words, including footnotes and bibliographical references; however, proposals for shorter pieces as well as longer articles are welcome.

Please direct all inquiries and abstracts to:

  • Ségolène Débarre (Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris) : debarre.segolene[at]gmail.com

  • Jean-François Pérouse ((Fransız Anadolu Araştırmaları Enstitüsü,, Istanbul) : jeanfrancoisperouse[at]gmail.com

Notes

1 Cf. ‘Les territoires à l’épreuve des changements dans le monde arabe’ [Territories in the face of change in the Arab world], second conference of the Observatoire des Transformations dans le Monde Arabe (OTMA), Faculty of Human and Social Sciences in Tunis, 4 and 5 June 2015.

2 Cf. Sezgi Durgun, Memalik-i Sahane’den Vatan’a, Istanbul, İletişim, 2011.

3 There is a debate about this distinction in Turkish. Cf. Aykut Köksal, ‘Bu Mekân Artık Bu Yer Değil’, AKSAM Konferansları 1, 10 May 2012; and Atilla Yücel, ‘Yer, Yersizlik, Yersizleşme’, AKSAM Konferansları 4, 16 May 2013.

4 Definition of territory given by Bernard Debarbieux, in Lévy J., Lussault M., Dictionnaire de la géographie et de l’espace des sociétés, Paris, Belin, 2013, p. 910. Cf. too B. Debarbieux, ‘Le territoire: histoires en deux langues. A bilingual (his-)tory of territory’ in Chivallon Ch., Ragouet P., Samers M. (eds), Discours scientifique et contextes culturels. Géographies françaises à l’épreuve post-moderne, Bordeaux, MSH d’Aquitaine, 1999, pp. 33-34.

5 Here using the definition of megaprojects as ‘projects that rapidly, intentionally, and profoundly alter the landscape in very visible ways, necessitating the coordinated intervention of state power and capital’: Gellert P. K., Lynch B. D., ‘Les mégaprojets, sources de déplacements’, Revue internationale des sciences sociales, 175 (2003), pp. 17-28.

6 Referred to in fluctuating terminology: ‘regional inequality’ (bölgesel eşitsizlik), ‘inequality between regions’ (bölgelerarası eşitsizlik), and ‘regional imbalance’ (bölgeler arası dengesizlik).

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