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The hinge of Taksim: Readjusting a landscape

Authors: Amir Khaghani*, Florida International University
Topics: Landscape, Political Geography, Middle East
Keywords: Landscape, Taksim, State intervention, Istanbul
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Taksim square is the heart of Istanbul’s Beyoglu, an Ottoman neighborhood that connected the millennium old city to the “west”. This role continued into the republic era and the 21st century.
The landscape was established through the presence of secular (Gezi park, Ataturk cultural center) and non-secular (Hagia Triada Orthodox church) elements that represent it as dissimilar to Ottoman/Turkish face of other such public spaces within the pre-republic city that attracts visitors from within and without the city.
Gezi park protests that occurred in 2013 distinguished the dissatisfaction of clusters of the locals of the fast alterations that were ongoing in that landscape. Gezi park as a beacon of what this landscape used to represent, became a symbol for protesters who attempted to “save” it. The park remains relatively intact today, but nevertheless the landscape has transformed. The state has continued the expressed transformation against Taksim’s republican and non-ottoman appearance through other means that might not generate quick responses from the civil society but radically changes the landscape. these changes in landscape are implemented through constructing, razing and repurposing spaces and thus changing people’s interaction with space.
This paper examines the changing landscape of Taksim square and the means through which it is happening, drawing on studies of landscape, territoriality and state intervention in public spaces.
The data is collected by myself on the ground and is backed by Ottoman, republic and 21st century archives.

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