Minarets without mosques: limits to the urban politics of neo-liberal islamism
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This paper discusses urban politics in contemporary Turkey through a particular architectural phenomenon: that of minarets without mosques. Local administrations under neo-liberal Islamists propose urban regeneration projects which require extensive demolitions in squatter areas. Yet, their reluctance to tear down minarets creates ruinscapes in which minarets seem to have miraculously survived destruction. In this regard, the minarets without mosques should be understood as symptoms of urban transformation led by neo-liberal Islamism. Neo-liberal Islamists envisage these projects as spatial forms of politics of convergence, juxtaposing slum upgrading with luxurious housing within the unifying cultural codes of Islam. It is proposed to interpret these minarets not as bearers of religious symbolism but as nodes within the urban network of everyday life referring to Lefebvre's concept of rhythmanalysis. Viewed in this way, it becomes possible for the minarets to take on new meanings and serve as signs of the displacement of the squatters.