Enno Maessen is a junior lecturer at the Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES). His main area of interests are modern Turkish history and urban history, with a particular focus on the relationship between history, space and identity.
In my recently completed PhD project I analysed the development of one of Istanbul’s historical districts, Beyoğlu, between 1950 and 1990. The thesis explores the historicity of place-making in Beyoğlu through the lense of six case studies. The thesis’ historical focus – 1950 to 1990 – is marked by Istanbul’s development from a middle-sized city into a metropole, ending with the acceleration of gentrification processes in historical areas.
It argues that perceptions of the district’s change in terms of its socio-cultural composition and built environment have resulted in discursive over-determinations of the area’s identities or associations. Those are for instance cosmopolitanism, urban deterioration, socio-cultural marginalism and a place where people fail to claim their rights to the city. The thesis highlights the historical complexity of processes of place-making in the district, thereby problematizing popular representations of processes of continuity and discontinuity in Beyoğlu.