Immoral Objects: A Psychogeography of Urban Transformation in Ulus, Ankara
Photograph: Burak Taşdizen
Once the political and economic center of a thriving, young Republic, Ulus neighbourhood in Ankara continues to host elements of both the city’s republican and religious traditions. The district, first surrounded by slums and then neglected after Kızılay became the capital’s new economic center, has been left to low income groups. Today, the distinctive and multi-layered character of Ulus is being targeted and condemned for having overshadowed the spirituality and morality of Hacibayram, a significant religious site in the district, and has been witness to a major urban transformation on these grounds. The aim of this paper is to trace the “immorality” that is claimed to prevail in the bazaars of Ulus through the employment of a psychogeographical methodology. In line with the emphasis on urban replacement in the current literature on urban transformation, this paper reveals the experiential justifications behind the gentrifiers’ discursive interventions. For this purpose, Ankara Metropolitan Municipality bulletins published between 2008 and 2016 were surveyed and a series of observations were made in different areas in Ulus, including the bazaar areas of Itfaiye Meydani, Telefoncular Pazari, etc., looking closely at the different objects offered on the shelves, as well as how they were presented to the passers-by. The emergent subjective map provides insight into the material environment, significant practices and different social groups invited into the area, unraveling the three main constituents of this alleged immorality: the prevalent alternative economy, current regime of masculinity, and conflicting nostalgias.