Completed PhD thesis: Selin Gürdere Akdur on social design in Turkey

My first ever PhD student to complete her studies, Selin Gürdere Akdur has successfully completed her PhD, titled “Socially oriented design practices in Turkey: A critical analysis of participation and collaboration” and presented her thesis on 16 September 2019. Her work involved the compilation and analysis of 93 social design practices at the first stage, and the analysis of participatory approaches via in-depth interviews with facilitators of a selection at the second stage. The findings of the first stage were published here, where we discuss the salient features of the social design field in Turkey, from which we start deriving a framework for the study of local social design practices.

Social Design in Turkey: Paper on The Design Journal

Our paper with Selin Gürdere has been published on the Design Journal as advance online publication. The paper reviews 27 social design projects from Turkey, uses those to provide a local overview. The abstract goes as follows:

Selin Gürdere Akdur and Harun Kaygan (2019). Social Design in Turkey through a Survey of Design Media: Projects, Objectives, Participation Approaches. The Design Journal, 22(1). DOI: 10.1080/14606925.2018.1560592

The literature on social design consists of studies that report on single cases on the one hand and global reviews that are offered for theoretical purposes on the other. There is a lack of local reviews that report on social design practices that stem from peculiar political, economic, design professional and educational contexts. In response to this gap, we provide a review of 27 social design practices in Turkey from the last decade. The projects are compiled in accordance with social design criteria derived from the literature. Sampled projects were analysed via textual analysis of their representations on design media. In our findings, we demonstrate the ways in which local context shapes local social design practices. We also outline a framework for the discussion of prominent issues, range of actors, objectives, and participatory approaches.

This was a difficult one to write, and it took a huge amount of time and effort to come up with workable selection criteria and a representative selection of projects. It was equally difficult to fit everything into 7000 words. By the way, we do not say that these are the best or even the better projects; we know that there are designers out there in Turkey, trying their best to be helpful, to bring change. We hope that the paper will draw attention to projects happening in Turkey, regardless of whether they are presented here. We also hope that similar work is produced for other places so that we can compare and learn and devise strategies.

Download the paper here. (Please note that this is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Design Journal on 21 Jan 2019, available online: here.)

Immoral Objects: A Psychogeography of Urban Transformation in Ulus


New article in Ankara Araştırmaları Dergisi, co-authored by Burak Taşdizen and Harun Kaygan, based on Burak’s course assignment for ID707 Critique of Design I of 2014-15 Fall semester. (Photo: Burak Taşdizen, Ulus, 2015)

Once the political and economic center of a thriving, young Republic, Ulus neighbourhood in Ankara continues to host elements of both the city’s republican and religious traditions. The district, first surrounded by slums and then neglected after Kızılay became the capital’s new economic center, has been left to low income groups. Today, the distinctive and multi-layered character of Ulus is being targeted and condemned for having overshadowed the spirituality and morality of Hacibayram, a significant religious site in the district, and has been witness to a major urban transformation on these grounds. The aim of this paper is to trace the “immorality” that is claimed to prevail in the bazaars of Ulus through the employment of a psychogeographical methodology. In line with the emphasis on urban replacement in the current literature on urban transformation, this paper reveals the experiential justifications behind the gentrifiers’ discursive interventions. For this purpose, Ankara Metropolitan Municipality bulletins published between 2008 and 2016 were surveyed and a series of observations were made in different areas in Ulus, including the bazaar areas of Itfaiye Meydani, Telefoncular Pazari, etc., looking closely at the different objects offered on the shelves, as well as how they were presented to the passers-by. The emergent subjective map provides insight into the material environment, significant practices and different social groups invited into the area, unraveling the three main constituents of this alleged immorality: the prevalent alternative economy, current regime of masculinity, and conflicting nostalgias.

Read the article here.