LAUD Seminar: “Urban Stages of Islamism: Unveiling the Interplay of Ideology and Capital in Public Spaces of Istanbul”, Meltem Al, 4:30PM June 6 (EN)

You are kindly invited to follow LAUD TALKS: Spring 2022-2023 organized by the Department of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, FADA, Bilkent University.
Speaker: Meltem Al

Date: 06/06/2023 Tuesday
Time: 16:30

This is an online seminar. To obtain event details please send a message to department.


Abstract: Turkey’s trajectory of urbanization since the late 20th century has been profoundly influenced by the convergence of Islamism (or political Islam) and neoliberalism. Within this context, Başakşehir, a satellite city located on the northwestern outskirts of Istanbul, offers an exceptional site for observing spatial experiments of Islamism across different scales. This talk focuses on the spaces of publicness in Başakşehir through two distinct types: city parks and town squares. Analyzing the cases of Sular Vadisi (Water Valley), Kayaşehir Millet Bahçesi (Nation’s Garden), and Başakşehir Kent Meydanı (Town Square), the talk centers on two motivations for their construction: (1) the assertion and formation of community identity, and (2) the financialization of urban space. The selected sites illustrate how public space becomes a stage for the principal power holders to manifest their authority over society and their counterparts through the organization of architectural and urban space and through the use of symbolic forms. Moreover, they also exemplify the transformation of public spaces into venues for the commodification of publicly owned lands. In these processes ideology and capital emerge as two significant factors influencing the production, management, and utilization of public spaces.

Bio: Meltem Al has been pursuing her Ph.D. in the School of Architecture at McGill University since 2015. She received her M.A. degree in Architecture from UCLA, supported by a Fulbright Scholarship from 2013 to 2015. Prior to this, she obtained both her M.Arch. degree in 2013 and her B.Arch. degree in 2010 from METU. During her doctoral studies, she received significant awards, including the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Foundation’s studentship award and the McCord Museum’s Fred and Betty Price Research Award. Al’s extensive educational background is complemented by diverse academic experiences, including her roles as a teaching assistant at McGill University and a research assistant at METU. Al’s research interests span a wide range, including neoliberal urbanism, global social housing experiments, the architecture of fundamentalist ideologies, the politics of architectural production, and the mapping of complexities in architecture and urban design. Her Ph.D. project delves into the relationship between neoliberal urbanism and political Islam, conducting an in-depth study of selected housing projects, public spaces and educational spaces in Istanbul. Her doctoral work explores the political, social, and economic dimensions of architectural and urban production, examining how various actors—including politicians, state actors, investors, construction companies, and users—interact and negotiate within the field.