Urban Symbolic Violence Re‐Made: Religion, Politics and Spatial Struggles in Istanbul


The symbolic and physical map of Istanbul has undergone dramatic shifts over the past four decades. Squatters—the persistent underdogs in this huge metropolis—have mounted an attack against established economic and cultural hierarchies. This challenge has transformed the structures of symbolic violence through the production of an alternative urban space (contentious neighborhoods and districts, teahouses, innovative district and street layouts, and ‘Islamic’ internal and external architecture). In the process, the meanings of urbanity and provinciality, of secularity and Islam, have been altered—and stigma, along with urban rent, has been systematically redistributed (although redistribution has been far from egalitarian). The dominant sectors ultimately absorbed the attack: squatters remained subordinated, but the terms of subordination have changed. A synthesis of Bourdieu and (a geographically revised) Gramsci sheds light on this process of challenge and absorption in and through urban space.