Taming the wild: Attracting capital through populist mobilization in the urban landscapes of Istanbul
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Urban transformation in Turkey, ranging in scale from gigantic infrastructural investments to small property-redevelopment ventures, has posed one of the most puzzling questions for scholars and activists: Why do the urban poor, despite being the most vulnerable to such projects, continue to partake in the populist mobilization around the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)? Grounded in an analysis of how neoliberal assemblages are entangled with urban land markets at the margins of Istanbul, I argue that neoliberal policies are not necessarily implicated in the prevalence of depoliticized individuals, conceptually framed as homo oeconomicus, but can also serve to create a fertile environment for populist mobilization. The partisans and sympathizers of the AKP find that their social and political activities, from neighborhood organizations to single-party hegemony in the parliament, are inherently inseparable from economic values. At this nexus between populist politics and economic forces, global capital emerges as a salient interlocutor that interfaces with political developments and social characteristics, having various predispositions and predilections-an actor whose miraculous powers can be unleashed and destructive tendencies controlled only through collective political mobilization.