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The Gezi Park Resistance from an Environmental Justice and Social Metabolism Perspective

capitalism

By Begüm Özkaynak, Cem İskender Aydιn, Pιnar Ertör-Akyazι & Irmak Ertör.

Abstract

The Gezi Park demonstrations that took place from June 2013 onwards across Turkey generated widespread interest and coverage. The lack of public consultation regarding the park’s future, coupled with aggressive police intervention, illustrate why the occupation of Gezi Park was not just meant to save trees, but also to save human rights, democracy, and freedoms in Turkey. Yet while that story covers how the conflict escalated from a demonstration in an Istanbul park to a nationwide revolt, it also conceals a different reason for the unrest: the enclosure of a public space by capital and the state, and a nationwide assault on the environment.

The aim of this commentary is threefold: First, to link the Gezi Park case to other environmental conflicts and resistance movements in Turkey over urban enclosures, mega-projects, mining, energy projects, and environmental degradation—many in areas that are ecologically quite sensitive and/or have high conservation value. Second, to situate these environmental conflicts, including the Gezi Park resistance, within the broader context of Turkey’s structural change, economic growth dynamics, and social metabolism. And third, to discuss longer-term effects of the Gezi protests on the dynamics of environmental politics in Turkey.

A brief summary of the events is provided below, including the various ways the demonstrators protested and the oppressive measures they encountered. Next, the Gezi Park conflict is situated within a broader discussion on environmentalism in Turkey, and the resistance is analyzed from an environmental justice perspective. A map created to increase the visibility of environmental struggles is also used to show how the Gezi Park movement is linked to other environmental conflicts in the country (Figure 1). Finally, all these environmental conflicts are argued to be the product of Turkey’s growth dynamics and social metabolism. We believe that linking local movements both to one another and to the metabolic profile of the country is crucial in building an overarching environmental movement capable of robust and sustained action with transformative power at the national scale.

Keywords:

activism, environmental justice, environmental conflicts, urban enclosure, social metabolism, sustainability, Turkey

How to cite:

Begüm Özkaynak, Cem İskender Aydιn, Pιnar Ertör- Akyazι & Irmak Ertör (2015): The Gezi Park Resistance from an Environmental Justice and Social Metabolism Perspective, Capitalism Nature Socialism, DOI: 10.1080/10455752.2014.999102

Link:

The Gezi Park Resistance from an Environmental Justice and Social Metabolism Perspective, Capitalism Nature Socialism

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