Ayşegül Can

Ayşegül Can is an urbanist and scholar from Turkey. She holds a PhD from the University of Sheffield (UK) and a master’s degree from Istanbul Technical University. Since 2018, she has been working as a lecturer at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in Istanbul Medeniyet University. Can has a strong commitment to social justice and the development of socially-sustainable cities. Her choice of PhD topic was motivated by concern for the poor, mainly minority-ethnic, residents of the historic neighbourhoods in Istanbul, particularly those subjected to state-led gentrification. This has given her a deep understanding of the role of oppressed groups in fighting for their rights within the city, and developing policy in their interests. She is committed to using academic expertise to help such movements.   

Being an Istanbulite: The Value of Resistance During a Time of Urban Governance Through Massive Projects

Can’s current research project aims to examine and analyze this change of attitude in the political structures of Turkey,and their effect on the inhabitants of Istanbul through state-led urban projects and resistance that emerged not only against these projects, but also against other urban decisions that were taken by the government (e.g. Sulukule Renewal Project, Gezi protests, the Istanbul Canal). This research on processes, explanations, documents and lived experiences will adopt a qualitative research design executed in three case study areas. A critical realist approach will be adopted in order to see the transformation and timeline of resistance against the controversial urban projects, as well as the actions of the state to stop such resistance.

The main data collection methods will be document analysis and semi-structured interviews. Instead of spending a lot of time on the particularities of the individual projects, the research focuses on the reaction they caused in public (especially among Istanbulites), how Istanbulites chose to resist, and what were the consequences of this resistance. The study aims to provide empirical evidence and present further frameworks for the consequences of mega and/or controversial urban projects in an oppressive political environment. For that reason this research is important for academics and activists. The originality of this research lies in its focus on the potential and importance of particular social dynamics evident under a transforming urban space.


Can, Aysegul. “A Recipe For Conflict In The Historic Environment Of Istanbul – The Case Of Tarlabasi”. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographers, 19 no. 1 (2020): 131-162. https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1876.

Can, Aysegul. “Informality and Affordability: Approaches from the Global South and Opportunities for the Global North”.Critical Housing Analysis, 6 no:2 (2019): 1-12. https://doi.org/10.13060/23362839.2019.6.2.476.

Can, Aysegul. “Inclusion or Exclusion in a Gentrifying Neighbourhood: Case of Galata, Istanbul” in Our City? Countering Exclusion in Public Space, 33-39. A Placemaking Europe Publication, Rotherdam; Stipo Publication, 2019.

All Publications from Ayşegül Can:

  • Covid-19, Inequality, and a Place to Shelter

    The novel coronavirus has been emphasizing and exacerbating the effects of a widening wealth gap, years of policies of austerity, and the extent of social inequality all over the world. The uncertainty over what the future will look like increases concerns surrounding the future of crucial matters such as labour, the housing market, and higher education. This piece focuses on the practices of solidarity, how this has shaped people’s experiences of the lockdown in Istanbul, Turkey, and the ways in which the local and national state can—and did—exploit public concerns and confusion that have been evoked by the pandemic to fast-track their controversial urban projects and decisions.