The power of space: How Gezi Park became the symbol of an uprising

Gezi Park was not exactly the place where I could take my girlfriend“,

says Cenk, a leftist activist, as we are sitting in a small cafe in one of the many side streets of Istiklal Caddesi. Earlier, Feride, a German-Turkish girl had mentioned the same feelings towards a park that had been used mainly by prostitutes, drug dealers and homeless people:

I had never really been to the park before… because it wasn’t exactly a safe place.“

During my research project on the Gezi Park movement I spent three months in Istanbul in fall 2013 and conducted interviews with people who had been in some way involved in the protests. Almost all of them told me that they had participated for two reasons: the park and its trees as the last green spot in the city; and later the police violence.

But if it is true that noone had actually used that allegedly last natural area of Istanbul, then why would anybody have bothered to protect it?

Gezi Park; Picture taken from http://galeri7.uludagsozluk.com

Gezi Park; Picture taken from http://galeri7.uludagsozluk.com

If the park was not visited by the public anyway, why did young people of all ideological backgrounds feel the need to settle down and build a tent city there?

With these questions in mind I started studying the meaning of space and power and discovered how the mere symbol of a public square can unite a whole generation. Continue reading

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In my university’s cafeteria the dish of the day always comes with three side dishes. I do not know many people who actually finish their side dishes or even the main dish. Yet, I do not know anybody who chooses to take only one or two side dishes in consideration of the fact that they will not finish them anyway. People do not think that way. If they pay for something they want to have it, whether they need it or not. We live in a pay-less-get-more society, where we are constantly searching for better offers to accumulate more stuff that we do not actually need. Continue reading

Taste the Waste (maybe I choose pessimism after all)

I have decided to become a terrorist. Because last week I saw the movie „Taste the Waste“ by Austrian director Valentin Thurn. It’s not like the film tells something completely new I have never heard of before, but sometimes one is quite good at temporarily neglecting how much the world sucks.

The film shows how unbelievably much food is thrown away. That with all the food thrown away in the USA and Europe the whole world could be fed three times.

Movie scene from “Taste the Waste”

It talks about the EU standards that an apple smaller than a certain size is not allowed to be sold for human consumption. And in Europe it is forbidden to make animal feed out of food leftovers. Which makes it necessary to cut down more rainforest to plant crop. Continue reading