Urban Studies Master’s Thesis Presentation and Defence

Egemen Mercanlioglu
A 501, Eesti Kunstiakadeemia

Algus k.p.:


Lõpp k.p.:

10:00-10:10 Introductions


10:10-11:10 (EEST)

Luisa Fernanda Ayala Torres

Precariousness in the Transformation of Labour: Through Working Class Identity in the city of Turin


Between the 1960s and 1980s, nine million Italians migrated from the agricultural regions of Italy to the productive areas of Turin, shaping the periphery of the city from a rural to an industrial area. The Post-War economic boom provided jobs in the northern plants, giving life to a workers’ hegemony and demographic, social, and cultural transformation. This socioeconomic transformation that affected the organisation of workers, labour, political activity, and society in general, was manifested in two cases. The Palace of Labour, an avant-garde building intended to celebrate the struggles of the working class with an exhibition focused on “man and his progress”, and the case of Mirafiori Sud, a working class neighbourhood symbolising the association of workers. In this way, this thesis explores the identity of the working class in the contemporary city of Turin, where security in neoliberal times no longer needs the scope of the protective techniques of the liberal social State, and as a consequence precarization is now the norm. This is reflected in the transformation of labour manifesting itsel through productive connection with others, where labour is not purely characterised by the increasing capitalization of social life but is effectively reflected with others, producing new social relations.


Examined by Alberto Vanolo (University of Turin) and Aro Velmet (University of Southern California)


11.15-12:15 (EEST)

Mira Samonig

the matter of right-wing populism in Polish LGBT-free zones; towards a with-standing xenourbanism?


Almost a third of Poland had been declared an ‘LGBT-free zone’ in 2020, stigmatizing the LGBTIQP+ community as a threat to Polish identity; this labeling remains a reality for many Polish towns. In this thesis, I am turning towards the concept of the ‘LGBT-free zones’ as a case to investigate the material reality of right-wing populism. I seek to develop a third position to a historical or new materialist understanding in order to investigate such material reality. By that, the ways values find physical expression and thus possibly mobilize oppressive attitudes into ever new futures ahead are traced. It becomes quite evident that the way structures of oppression are advanced and maintained within the public realm exists quite dominantly in everyday narratives. In a bottom-up manner, right-wing populism is advanced on the street; yet, it is by far not perceived by everyone. This marks the entry point for sketching out a possible approach to how the discipline of urbanism could position itself in social struggles. Drawing on Helen Hester’s Xenofeminism, the thesis introduces the concept of xenourbanism describing urbanism based on the conceptual notion of solidarity without sameness. I argue that the notion of xeno- as a prefix attached to urbanism focuses on an inherent transformational potential within the current, rendering a perceived unarming reality into a weapon of contestation and by that suggesting trajectories away from paralyzing no-alternative narratives.


Examined by Piotr Plucienniczak (Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts) and Helen Runting (Secretary)


12:25-13:35 (EEST)

Zahaan Khan

Tourism-Led Gentrification: The Case of Dal Lake in Kashmir

The dissertation explores tourism-led gentrification, its causes and the impact on the communities living in and around the ecologically-sensitive region of Dal Lake in Kashmir. The dissertation employs methodological triangulation using interviews, survey and policy document analysis, as methods. The policy document in question is the Srinagar Master Plan 2035 issued by the Srinagar Development Authority. Analysing the correlation between tourism and gentrification in a conflict-torn region and using displacement as a conceptual lens, the thesis maps the socio-cultural and economic aspects of touristification especially in relation to the everyday lives of the communities. The dissertation employs a two-pronged analytical approach by using two categories – land milieu and water milieu – to foreground the patterns and impact of gentrification in and around the lake. The analysis of the land milieu concerns itself with a detailed exploration into Boulevard, the long promenade along the lake’s periphery. It further discusses holiday rentals and issues of mobility and maps the city’s land-use patterns particularly in relation to expansion along the lake’s periphery. The study of the water milieu, on the other hand, is an exploration into the historical houseboats of Kashmir and the local hanji (or haenz) community; foregrounding the issues concerning policies of renovation and relocation of

houseboats. The dissertation also delves into the government’s land use and tourism-driven development plans around the lake, especially post abrogation of

Article 370 of the Indian constitution that gave ‘special status’ to the region.


Examined by Dr Mathew Varghese (Mahatma Gandhi University) and Karlis Ratnieks (EKA)


13:35-14:25 Lunch


14:25-15:25 (EEST)

Egemen Mercanlioglu

THE WORK OF A RIFT: Kanal İstanbul and Turkey’s Authoritarian Neoliberalism


Turkey under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi was touted as a paragon of neoliberalism and a burgeoning democracy until the late-2000s. Two decades later, the positive portrayals of the country have decidedly shifted. Turkey is now considered to have retreated from neoliberalism; an emblematic case of authoritarian turn. However, this thesis rethinks authoritarian governance as the kernel of the Erdoğan-led AKP’s brand of neoliberalism. It does so by focusing on a to-be-built urban megaproject, Kanal İstanbul—a 45-kilometer long man-made waterway, aiming to locate İstanbul as a signature node in the global web of flooding money and commodities. Using the megaproject as a lens, the thesis shows how neoliberal reforms in the early-2000s have propelled İstanbul and the construction sector as financial growth generating engines of the country. Subsequently, these

reforms have buttressed contemporary coercive governance structure and a megaproject spree in the city. Finally, the thesis briefly explores a recent but growing counter-hegemonic contestation against Erdoğan and his Kanal İstanbul, posed by the mayor of İstanbul. The thesis does not give a final verdict but explores whether or not this challenge proposes an alternative to authoritarian neoliberalism.


Examined by Dr Cemal Burak Tansel (Newcastle University) and Mattias Malk (EKA)


15:30-16:30 (EEST)

Deniz Taskin

Architecture as a Practice of Care: Case Studies of Women’s Care-Based Architecture Practices


Care as a concept is becoming more crucial in architecture and urban practice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s unpredictable spatial, social, and political circumstances. The attitude of urbanized capitalism towards contemporary urban problems and its refusal to acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis result in uncaring urban practices. The important position of architecture as a measure for assessing our place in the ecosystem and the role of architects and related disciplines in determining with whom we live together requires them to reconsider the values and priorities that drive their practice. This thesis unpacks care as a concept and ethical practice through a feminist lens by focusing on the notion of “configuration of care,” which refers to how architects express their ethical and political objectives by arranging human and nonhuman materials to achieve caring relationships in urban spaces. (Suchman 2012). It does so by focusing on the practices of women from the field of architecture and related disciplines whose contemporary practice foregrounds care and employs feminist care ethics: Careful Mapping by Spolka, Performing Architherapy by Erika Henriksson, Mutfak (Kitchen) by Merve Bedir, The Blind Alley by Elin Strand Ruin. The thesis explores certain commonalities and recurring patterns of thought in how the practitioners’ encounter and apply feminist care ethics. Finally, it discusses the potential and limits of incorporating feminist care ethics into architecture practice, as well as the potential for architectural practice to become care practice.


Examined by Agata Marzecova (EKA) and Henriette Steiner (University of Copenhagen)

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