Rendering Istanbul’s Periodic Bazaars Invisible: Reflections on Urban Transformation and Contested Space


This is a study of Istanbul’s periodic bazaars and an attempt to place them in the context of contestation over urban space, urban poverty and informality. The periodic bazaars in the city are either disappearing or being moved to the outskirts. These trends reflect and reproduce spatial unevenness in the city, manifesting new forms of social exclusion and polarization. The city’s increasingly commodified urban space has become an arena of social and economic contestation. We address these questions by focusing on the story of the relocation of one of Istanbul’s most popular periodic bazaars, the Tuesday bazaar in Kadıköy. Our analysis reveals that the relocation and reorganization of bazaars in Istanbul in the 2000s have largely been driven by rising real‐estate prices in the city: land has simply become too precious a commodity to be left to the bazaaris. Furthermore, in the context of a pervasive neoliberal discourse on urban renewal and modernization that promotes the notion of a hygienic city, the bazaaris, it seems, have become the new undesirables of the urban landscape, leaving them under double siege from the commodification of public land and from spatially defined social exclusion.