Care in Tarlabaşı amidst heightened inequalities, urban transformation and Coronavirus

Alize Arican

Published in Issue 2.2 // Updates

Keywords: care, authoritarianism, urban transformation, COVID-19, Tarlabaşı, Istanbul, Turkey


Istanbul’s Tarlabaşı neighborhood has been undergoing state-led urban transformation for over a decade, without an end date in sight. Experiencing authoritarianism as a protracted process, Tarlabaşı residents brought to life care as a long-term process in response. Through Tarlabaşı Solidarity Network, a network of care (ihtimam) as they conceptualize it, to navigate uncertainty, maintain community, and hold onto their properties through interpersonal and horizontal relationships. And care, as I show in this piece, has become a buffering response to the eruption of the COVID-19 crises, the effects of which have been exacerbated by authoritarian urban politics already in motion. Repertoires of care present alternatives to uneven impacts of crises, and Tarlabaşı Solidarity Network shows us the important of putting care to work in urban spaces we inhabit.

Alize Arıcan is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work focuses on care, temporality, and urban transformation through engaged ethnography in the Tarlabaşı neighborhood of Istanbul. Alize has also actively participated in the Tarlabaşı Solidarity Group. Her work has been featured in City & Society and is forthcoming in Current Anthropology, while her public scholarship has appeared in, the American Ethnologist website, CASTAC Blog, and the Status podcast.

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