A modernization project in a neoliberal urban setting: municipal statues of Eskişehir
Erman, Fatma Tahire
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This thesis studies a municipally orchestrated modernization project in the city of Eskişehir, Turkey, in parallel to neoliberal urban trends. Showing the post-industrial characteristics of a neoliberal urban scene, Eskişehir’s neoliberal city branding entails a specific discourse that is formed around the promotion of modernist/westernist values. Therefore, the theoretical assumption of this study is the contextual variability of neoliberal urban practices. As one of the most tangible aspects of this new urban fabric, municipally produced statues are selected as the research material of this study. In this respect, the research question is, how can municipally subsidized, produced and placed statues in Eskişehir urban center be interpreted in a neoliberal urban setting?”. Therefore, the statues are studied with an interpretive approach and textual analysis is employed as the method. Furthermore, selected statues are discussed in relation to two main themes, which are firstly, the municipal modernization/westernization perspective and secondly, the acculturation of urbanites into adopting proper urban behavior. Consequently, the discussion suggests that the statues deliver a westernist modernization perspective, reveal an early Republican influence, encourage urbanites to adopt proper urban behavior, reveal a contestation against conservative/Islamist municipalities and utilize the modern image of the city as a neoliberal branding practice. The aim of this modernization perspective appears to be the construction of a modern city with modern urbanites and simultaneously make use of this particular branding of the city as a neoliberal urban strategy.