Karasulu, A. (2016). 11 ‘We May Be Lessees, but the Neighbourhood is Ours’. Everywhere Taksim, 201.

Prime Minister Erdoğan, in his speech at the ceremony, blamed the

protesters against the third airport for being Gezizekalı (‘Gezi-minded’), a

possible and quite unwitty wordplay for gerizekalı (‘idiot’):

Last year in May, some Gezizekalı people sprang up. Those Gezizekalıs

could not bear this airport. For it is impossible for them to imagine such

a gigantic airport. They still want to see Turkey as it was twelve years

ago. Turkey has reached a point where it can build the biggest airport in

the world. The schools we have built, the divided roads. We are proud of

you. Your unity makes some people crazy.37

Although this article has focused narrowly on urban struggles (and those

in Istanbul), there has been local collective action in rural Turkey against

hydroelectric, thermal and nuclear plants as well as new mines. This allows

us to say that space is not only a stage for contentious politics but a

solid ground for vocalising dissent, in the form of spatial claims. Often,

self-organising people defending their livelihood and environment are

faced with a government that claims the ultimate right to define the use

of urban and rural space, legitimising this right with majoritarianism. The

use of urban and rural space aims at profit maximisation: construction is

said to represent ‘development’ and ‘welfare’ for the public, if not for the

construction groups close to the government.

It is hard to foresee the turn this episode of contention could take in the

face of widespread dispossession or a crisis in the construction sector. With

reference to space, there is still room for discussion, dissent, alternative

imaginaries, struggle and resistance. Gezizekalıness in this sense would suggest

new alliances and new means for challenging the current socio-spatial

order. As the graffito in the title of this article suggests, such struggles are

given life primarily by the residents.