Culturalization Through Bulldozing: The Case of Zurafa Street, Beyoglu, Istanbul

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Çiçek C., Aydın E.

5th World Planning School Congress, Denpasar, Indonesia, 29 August - 02 September 2022, vol.1, no.1, pp.42

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • Volume: 1
  • City: Denpasar
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Page Numbers: pp.42
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Today, various informal economies that have been in existence for many years have become regarded as a threat to maintaining the neoliberal system, especially in urban settings. Having existed since the earliest points of human history, brothels have also got their share from this current situation. In the 2000s, many brothels around the world were transformed into various new function areas with urban development projects. These initiatives, identified with the creative-destruction concept, emerge as a different type of gentrification, and are named as culturalization. Zurafa, Alageyik, and Kadem Streets in Beyoglu are the first addresses of the brothels in Istanbul with a history dating back to the 19th century. This research aimed to illuminate the reasons behind the bulldozing of this area, which has been reorganized for different political purposes and is seen as a part of an upper-scale project. This study will bring the area, which has been removed from the urban memory and literature to the agenda again. A mixed-method design was adopted in the study. In-depth interviews and media surveys were conducted with the actors and stakeholders of the bulldozing process, and the purposes and possible effects behind bulldozing were examined. The economic structure of the sector was analyzed by using quantitative data. The results of the study show that the bulldozing of Zurafa Street is a cornerstone and connector between the Galata Port Project in the south and the transformation of Istiklal Street in the north by playing a crucial role in Beyoglu Culture Way Project. Destruction is debated only over property and economy whereas the daily life in the city, urban identity, and urban memory are kept behind. While the central government rapidly continues the culturalization projects in Beyoglu, the metropolitan government contributes to the area's sterilization with restoration projects. Characterizing the images which give variety to cities as bad, and the bulldozing of the urban heritage sites through the “culturalization projects” cause the cities to become dedifferentiated and disidentified. This growing problem in today’s metropoles is demolishing the urban memory. Additionally, so-called cultural function areas are causing the alienation of urban dwellers especially to the heritage sites of the cities.