Understanding the driving forces in heritage conservation activities in suriçi

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of City and Regional Planning, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018

Thesis Language: English


Principal Supervisor (For Co-Supervisor Theses): Osman Balaban

Co-Supervisor: Ayşe Güliz Bilgin Altınöz


The thesis has two main aims; the first aim is to show that there has been an increase in activities for cultural heritage conservation in Diyarbakır Suriçi District since 2000 and the second aim is to understand the major reasons of the situation; namely, the underlying dynamics on it. The decisions taken by the Diyarbakır Cultural and Natural Heritage Conservation Board between 2000 and 2016 have been examined in detail to express these aims. In addition, all cultural heritage projects that were developed or implemented during that time have been examined and discussed. The dynamics or factors of the increased conservation activity in Suriçi were examined in three different levels such as global, national and local levels. Council of Europe, European Union, and UNESCO are the global (f)actors that made significant impacts on the general conservation agenda of Turkey. The establishment of the Union of Historical Towns, the revised legislation on cultural heritage conservation as well as central and local elections are specified and examined as the national-level dynamics that shaped the increased conservation activity in Suriçi. Among the most important local (f)actors, there is the Kurdish political movement which came into power in Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality between 1999 and 2016. To verify the hypotheses of the research, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 people, who played active roles in heritage conservation activities in Diyarbakır in the last decades. The interviews helped to understand which of the above-mentioned factors have been influential as well as their level of influence over the occurrence and development of the conservation activities in Suriçi. The results indicate that all the factors or dynamics specified at the outset of the study, one way or another influenced the cultural heritage conservation activities in Suriçi. However, the most crucial and the unpredicted dynamic is the political competition and conflict between the central government and the local government, namely the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality.