AESOP 26th Annual Congress, Turkey, 11 - 15 July 2012, pp.1-17
Turkey acquires a remarkable wealth of historic and cultural heritage. Yet, changing economic, political, legal and social conditions often turn this legacy into a liability. Since the mid-1980s, along with the neo-liberal policies, the widening of market mechanism and a competitive real-estate market were followed by the rapid privatization of public lands and other assets, the expansion of local governments’ jurisdictions, and the growing presence of global capital especially in big cities. Together with the neo-liberal urbanism, heritage has been recognized more and more as a physical asset with its economic and symbolic contributions to the cities’ competitiveness within the global market. This understanding of heritage has not only commodified and commercialized it, but it has also been undermined its social and cultural significance and values. In Turkey, heritage, like in many other countries, has become a city-marketing and branding instrument and a catalyst for urban regeneration schemes. Likewise, the rapid urbanization in Turkish cities has also acted as a growing threat against the historic and cultural heritage. This paper aims to underline and discuss a variety of current challenges and threats on the conservation of cultural and historic heritage in Turkey. It will examine these challenges and threats regarding political, legal, financial, economic and social dimensions, as well as the new planning priorities.