A place of identity and fear: boundaries experienced in a "Gypsy" Quarter in Ankara

Date
2002
Authors
Incirlioğlu, E.
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Source Title
Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review
Print ISSN
1050-2092
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International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE)
Volume
14
Issue
1
Pages
25
Language
English
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Abstract

This paper explores the practices of exclusion, segregation and conflict in Çinçin Baglari, a rigidly defined quarter in Ankara, Turkey. This quarter has gained a reputation as an "unruly" place inhabited by lawless people, undocumented "gyp- sies," drug pushers, prostitutes, pickpockets and petty criminals. Most of the residents of the quarter live in squatter settlements. Thus, while Çinçin Baglari is an everyday place and "home" to hundreds of families, it has become an "other" place for the rest of Ankara's population - to the extent that most city residents feel like "foreigners" and experience fear within its boundaries. Foucault's politicized concept of "heterotopia" (other place) is applicable to Çinçin Baglari, where "the notion of 'other' refers to that which is both formally and socially other." Based on surveys and observations conducted by a group of university students in 2001 and 2002, as well as interviews with municipal officials, this paper focuses on the social relations and territorial behavior patterns that define the boundaries of Çinçin Baglari in the absence of walls or fences. The traditions or cul- tural traits that are practiced within the quarter, such as cock- fights, dogfights, pigeon competitions, self-mutilations, or the creative use of various "weapons," serve to reinforce the cultural identity of the residents in a negative way. Specifically, this paper will focus on the tensions that are created by the occasional demolition of squatter houses and the subsequent confrontation which takes place between the police and the residents. At a time when cosmopolitanism and global citizenship are being widely discussed, a considerable number of Çinçin Baglari residents are not registered or documented, and thus are not "cit- izens" of the modern nation-state of Turkey. Considering the global dispersion of "gypsies," "unbound" around the world beyond commitment to any one nation-state, it is ironic that the boundaries of Çinçin Baglari are spatially well defined, and that they so rigidly separate its inhabitants from “outsiders”

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