On Interaction between the City and the Language(s): Individual to Society
Mapping A Neoliberal Transition: The Case of SulukuleElif Kevser Özer
This study aims to fundamentally discuss neoliberalism using the concepts, the state, and volunteerism, and cover the subject of the process of localizing neoliberalism through examining one of the state’s neoliberal policies, the urban transformations projects, as well as the volunteer work undertaken by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) towards this. By focusing on a Roma district that lies beyond the borders of society, Sulukule, this study examines the urban transformation projects carried out as a result of these neoliberal policies and the reasoning behind them. During this localization process of neoliberalism, Sulukule moves away from being an underclass urban land and becomes a commodified urban place in Istanbul. On the other hand, this study points out NGOs and their activities, the result of these urban transformation projects, and the resulting web of power relations, as the main underlying problem. It focuses on the methods and efforts of volunteers to turn the people of Sulukule into neoliberal subjects via various technologies. The study carried out with the multi-sited ethnography research, which lasted for about two years, concludes: “State” and “civil society” are in the position of stakeholders in the localization of neoliberalism; volunteers operating locally complete the process initiated by the urban transformation. In the case of Sulukule, the tendency of the state and volunteers to try to normalize the Roma, under the banner of “empowerment”, can be read as the localization of neoliberalism.