Urban social movements in/against European Capital of Culture Istanbul
Ergin, Nezihe Basak
Sociology Middle East Technical University Istanbul, Turkey
Sociology Middle East Technical University Ankara, Turkey
Istanbul, after being proposed especially by municipal actors as a winner of a "cultural characteristics competition" at "European" level, beyond Turkey as a candidate for EU, is transformed according to aims for "contemporary arts", "cultural heritage", "historical background", with the reinvention of "multiculturalism", "culture". "Culture" -a complicated and controversial word- and "Europe" components of this new label became legitimatizing tools for already started urban projects of neoliberal urbanism but redefined by the benefit of this "cultural industry", excluding Istanbul´s residents, especially lower classes, leading to one question: "whose culture, whose city" as Zukin stated. Urban social movements in Istanbul against urban projects will be discussed within the discussion on its definitions as "new social movements" or a "old movement". In a class-based theoretical standpoint both for the reasons and organization, alliances, it will be attempted to pursue continuity and relationship between these two definitions. The study will examine "urban social movements" of intellectuals and grassroots towards urban projects (for demolition of residents in different neighborhoods, of urban landmarks, cultural centers) within the so-called "urban renewal/regeneration" in Istanbul, gaining new aspects in the framework of Istanbul, the European Capital of Culture for 2010. The paper will underline the role of internet in terms of network, information, organization and recruitment in the protests and of media both as stigmatizing these protests and especially as a means of protest. Working on protests at different levels of "intellectuals" and grassroots in opposition to decisions within this "program", the study has a standpoint of revealing heterogeneity within "intellectuals", including actors within the organizational structure who even changed the first urban decisions of the program and of exposing a critique for the definition of grassroots either as "silent", "deviant" or "radical", "revolutionary".