Social movements and urban activism in Turkey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Urban social movements and activism are integral to contemporary politics in Turkey. In Istanbul itself, as in other Turkish cities, urban activism has a long history, pursued by political parties, the Government, and oppositional movements alike. Indeed, this history reveals a particular feature of political life in Turkey, the fateful creation of a social movement-state assemblage by Turkish nationalists in the early decades of the twentieth century. The legacy of this amalgam continues today. In it urban activism encompasses more than political activity in the city. It aims also at the transformation of urban space, through social struggles over its ownership, use, design, and meaning. Similarly, urban social movements fabricate more than projects and ideologies of social change. For activists themselves, participation in them also promises alteration of the self, through their fostering of alternative ways of perceiving the city, its parts, and its residents. Bringing these dimensions of urban activism together, this chapter discusses a wide range of historical and contemporary social movements in Istanbul, including the transgenerational Kemalist movement, leftist activism in the 1970s, the more recent events of Gezi Park, and the urban activism of the AKP in Istanbul in response to the failed military coup of 2016.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge handbook on contemporary Turkey
EditorsJoost Jongerden
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780429264030
ISBN (Print)9780367209025, 9781032023694
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Turkey
  • Social movements
  • Kemalism
  • Islam and politics


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