[P4940] Authority in Concrete: State, Space, and Infrastructures in Turkey

Created by Sinan Erensu
Tuesday, 11/21/17 8:00am


Investment in infrastructures is now pushing record-breaking thresholds worldwide, particularly in the global South, as more than half of the world's infrastructural development takes place in so-called emerging markets. According to the World Bank, Turkey is a leader in this field, having absorbed a substantial 40 percent of all infrastructure investment volume in 2015 among 139 developing nations. From giant highways, bridges, and dams to majestic pipeline, canal, and airport projects, the salience of infrastructures in contemporary Turkey, however, is far greater than what these striking figures can capture. Under the fifteen-year-long Justice and Development Party (AKP) regime, infrastructure-building has especially become a form of politics-making with live broadcasted, ribbon-cutting ceremonies and elections campaigns run on pro-infrastructure platforms. On the one hand, infrastructures ignite political dreams and imaginations. They are expected to create jobs, raise standards of living and help Turkey to "catch up with" and even surpass the developed West. However, infrastructures are also central to any authoritarian project; they are used to garner political support, establish economic alliances, govern populations, and produce space. While acknowledging the growing role of infrastructures in Turkish economy (Adaman, et al., 2014), this panel examines the kinds of networks, relationships, processes and meanings produced alongside the construction of infrastructures in Turkey. By paying attention to the politics and poetics of infrastructures (Larkin, 2014), the panel's contributors examine the co-constitution of the form, temporality, spatiality, legality and materiality of such infrastructures, while laying out the fantasies they generate and sustain in contemporary Turkey. While concerned with the new forms and meanings of infrastructural violence (Rodgers and O'Neill, 2012) in Turkey, this panel strives to historicize the relationship between the state, society, ecology and "building big." Providing rich qualitative data, our panel takes a fresh look at the rise of authoritarianism in Turkey, which is often hastily explained on a culturalist basis, while contributing to the burgeoning interdisciplinary literature on infrastructures (Star, 1999; Anand 2012; McFarlane and Rutherford 2008; Cowe et. al., 2016).





Firat Bozcali

(University of Pennsylvania)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Sinan Erensu

(Northwestern University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Bengi Akbulut

(Concordia University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Cihan Tekay

(CUNY Graduate Center)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Emrah Yildiz

(Northwestern University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Discussant;

Zeynep Oguz

(CUNY Graduate Center)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;