On the dual nature of intra-urban borders: The case of a Romani neighborhood in Istanbul


CITIES, vol.29, no.4, pp.234-243, 2012 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 29 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.cities.2011.09.007
  • Title of Journal : CITIES
  • Page Numbers: pp.234-243
  • Keywords: Borders, Gentrification, Urban renewal, Right to difference, Territoriality, Narrativity, Sulukule, Istanbul, BOUNDARIES, WORLD, US


This essay questions the nature of intra-urban borders from a politico-ethical point of view. Namely: to what extent are intra-urban borders acceptable at a time of proliferating discourses about a borderless world, and open cities? We discuss this through a case study of Sulukule - a historic neighborhood home to a millennium old Roma community located within the historic city center of Istanbul - in the context of the urban renewal project launched by the local municipality. The often cited "humanitarian" pretext for the renewal project is "incorporating" the Sulukule's poor Roma community into the city and tearing down the borders demarcating their ghetto. Eventually, this discourse of incorporation served to instigate a rapid episode of gentrification in the area. Offering a critical perspective on the municipality's renewal project, and through a discussion of the often conflicting premises of the discourses of the "right to the city" and the "group right to difference," this essay argues that intra-urban borders are "undecided" separators and calls for policy tools that are responsive to the enabling aspects of bordering processes. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.