Rendering Istanbul’s periodic bazaars invisible: Reflections on urban transformation and contested space

Öz, Ö. & Eder, M.

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Öz, Ö., & Eder, M. (2012). Rendering Istanbul’s periodic bazaars invisible: Reflections on urban transformation and contested space. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 36(2), 297–314.

Exclusion , Istanbul , Neoliberalism , Periodic Bazaars , Urban Contestation

This is a study of Istanbul's periodic bazaars and an attempt to place them in the context of contestation over urban space, urban poverty and informality. The periodic bazaars in the city are either disappearing or being moved to the outskirts. These trends reflect and reproduce spatial unevenness in the city, manifesting new forms of social exclusion and polarization. The city's increasingly commodified urban space has become an arena of social and economic contestation. We address these questions by focusing on the story of the relocation of one of Istanbul's most popular periodic bazaars, the Tuesday bazaar in Kadıköy. Our analysis reveals that the relocation and reorganization of bazaars in Istanbul in the 2000s have largely been driven by rising real‐estate prices in the city: land has simply become too precious a commodity to be left to the bazaaris. Furthermore, in the context of a pervasive neoliberal discourse on urban renewal and modernization that promotes the notion of a hygienic city, the bazaaris, it seems, have become the new undesirables of the urban landscape, leaving them under double siege from the commodification of public land and from spatially defined social exclusion.

Main finding
The authors argue that the relocation and reorganization of the city’s popular bazaars in 2000 was mainly due to rising real-estate values because of the influx of capital investment into the city. The commodification of public lands used for the bazaars led to opportunistic rent-seeking and the commodification of the bazaaris themselves as they are forced into competition and try to outbid each other for better positions in the newly relocated bazaar’s physical space. The relocation of the bazaar, the authors suggest, contributed to a new form of spatial exclusion including class-based segregation and gentrification.

Description of method used in the article
The author engaged in fieldwork including frequent site visits in 2009 to five major public bazaars in Istanbul plus interviews with 36 bazaaris and the heads of the Chamber of Bazaaris and various municipal officials. Archival research was also conducted.

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Organising categories

Economic Transactions
Case Study
Physical types
Geographic locations