Disaster Capitalism meets Authoritarian Urbanism: Post-disaster Urban Redevelopment Planning in Hatay, Turkey



urban redevelopment, disaster capitalism, Housing; Earthquake Disaster; Post-Disaster Reconstruction, Turkey, authoritarian urbanism




In the aftermath of the February 2023 earthquakes that hit south of Turkey and northern Syria, millions of people are displaced, left homeless, and face tremendous hardship in post-disaster conditions for accessing basic services. In this paper, we analyse the institutional and political moves that the State is orchestrating in post-earthquake redevelopment planning. Following the theoretical underpinnings of disaster capitalism (Güney 2022), we argue that the local political conditions and vulnerabilities of a disaster-hit area enable the State’s fast-track policy action to facilitate a wholesale property transfer and dictate land use changes to open room for market-oriented, exclusionary, and non-democratic redevelopment (Ay and Turker 2022). We explore the reinforcing relationship between authoritarian urbanism and disaster capitalism and suggest that an authoritarian policy infrastructure yields “a new breed” of post-disaster redevelopment that directly attacks the local capacity and public interest in the recovery and reconstruction of the lives and livelihoods of the local communities and residents (Zupan et al., 2021). By conducting a case study on the post-disaster planning in Defne and Antakya districts of the Hatay province in the south of Turkey, we identify the institutional pillars of the centralized authoritarian urbanism practice and its reverberations on the ground (Ergenc and Yuksekkaya 2022). Our findings contribute to a nuanced understanding of the logic of disaster capitalism and disaster urbanization (Madden 2021) by identifying the policy instruments that the State mobilizes to intensify profit-seeking urban development in politically contested cities. 



Ay, D. and Turker, K. A. (2022) 'Post-conflict Urban Renewal as an Ethnocratic Regime Practice: Racialized Governance of Redevelopment in Diyarbakir, Turkey.' Frontiers in sustainable cities, 4, 880812.

Ergenc, C. and Yuksekkaya, O. (2022) 'Institutionalizing authoritarian urbanism and the centralization of urban decision-making.' Territory, Politics, Governance, 1-20.

Güney, K. M. (2022). 'Earthquake, disaster capitalism and massive urban transformation in Istanbul.' The Geographical Journal. https://doi.org/10.1111/geoj.12496

Madden, D. J. (2021). 'Disaster urbanization: The city between crisis and calamity.' Sociologica, 15(1), 91-108.

Zupan, D., Smirnova, V. and Zadorian, A. (2021) 'Governing through stolichnaya praktika: Housing renovation from Moscow to the regions.' Geoforum, 120, 155-164.