“Night Hawks” watching over the city: redeployment of night watchmen and the politics of public space in Turkey
Space and Culture
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Technological advances have enormously increased surveillance techniques in the last three decades. In this article, we scrutinize the re-instatement of bekçi, the traditional night watchmen patrolling the residential neighborhoods in Turkey, which was obsolete for decades. We analyze the re-emergence of the bekçi in relation to the dynamics of urbanization, and with a perspective of power and surveillance. Our discussion bridges the Foucauldian notion of “visibility,” equating it with being subject to surveillance, and the Arendtian emphasis on “appearance” as the precondition for a claim to public space (hence, citizenship) in order the uncover the role of visibility within the mechanisms of power in public space. We argue that although the bekçi seems outmoded, especially within the context of ever-increasing advancement of surveillance technologies; its recent deployment in the public spaces of Turkish metropolises brings about new modes of politics of visibility parallel to the changing modality of the urban environment.