Who is an Istanbulite? Changing Patterns of Urban Citizenship

    • Nice November 2018
    • Presentation speakers
      • Sernaz Arslan, Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey


    As James Holston has beautifully written, “cities are full of stories in time, some sedimented and catalogued; others spoorlike, vestigial, and dispersed. Their narratives are epic and everyday; they tell of migration and production, law and laughter, revolution and art.” They also tell of different experiences of citizenship. Although citizenship is generally considered within the framework of the nation-state, cities are important locales for the presentation of citizenship. Cities are considered to be sensitive to the rapid and constant movement of capital and labor since such movements create significant increases in socio-economic inequality and cause new forms of membership, solidarity and alienation. Migration on the other hand turns cities in sites of social diversity and normative heterogeneity. The cultural social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the restructuring of capitalism and the state along with the information technology revolution generated novel versions of connectivity, polarization and exclusion. Cities have become political spaces where the meaning, scope, content and practice of citizenship are created and transformed. The city provides us with new ways of being a citizen. This paper aims to illustrate how rural migrants from different generations exercise, practice and experience citizenship in Istanbul. A generational study among rural migrants will provide us insight on how changing national, social and political dynamics influence norms, practices and meanings concerning citizenship. It will also shed light upon how rural migrants’ own experiences of citizenship affect their feelings of inclusion, exclusion and belonging. One of the objectives of the study is to explore how they present their citizenship under different identities like grandparents, parents, youngster, student, worker, and claim associated rights at different spatial levels.