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Conflict as a ground for destruction of heritage and subsequent gentrification

Conflict as a ground for destruction of heritage and subsequent gentrification

Murat Germen / Turkey
Sabanci University

There is a major construction program, being undertaken in the past decade, named “urban transformation” by the ruling government. As the transformation moved forward, it turned out this building activity was intended for profit and not for better urban environments. The construction was also a social engineering construct, causing people lose their native homes during the demolition process (dispossession) to make ground for new costlier housing to be bought by the rich.

While this is one dimension of the story; the more severe dimen- sion is the fact that there is an unending clash in between the Turkish Military and the Kurdish PKK in the past 40 years. Com- bat previously took place in the mountains; this last confrontation was unfortunately conducted within the city, leaving civilians in extreme danger. The destructive battle fought with heavy weapons including tanks, cannons led to rigorous destruction in the solely residential areas. The area, where residential urban habitat and historical heritage were significantly damaged after the clash- es, is at the moment sealed off and clearance of post-war debris has started. The demolition, regularly carried out by heavy construction equipment, was indirectly accomplished through war. The locals will be displaced towards the outskirts of the city where they can only afford a much cheaper flat in an inhumane gigantic high-rise compound.