This paper examines the domestic growth and overseas expansion of Turkish firms as part of the treadmill of production. The treadmill of production is an environmental and political-economy approach to society’s insatiable hunger for material goods. In this approach, economic growth leads to withdrawals of natural resources, and the addition of waste to the environment that stresses both nature and society. Drawing on the treadmill of production approach, I argue that logistical service providers are a coping and modernisation mechanism for accelerated urban growth and economic expansion. This process is visible in the expansion of privatised waste management, and even more so in rapidly urbanising regions where growth and modernisation are of great importance to policy-makers. Owing to the importance of growth and expansion, logistics firms in newly industrialised countries, like their counterparts in the Global North, increasingly export logistical services overseas. This, in turn, accelerates the treadmill of production internationally. As such, this paper will also look at the expansion of Turkish firms into Pakistan.
(2015). “Neoliberalism, logistics and the treadmill of production in metropolitan waste management: A case of Turkish firms.” Urban Studies, DOI: 0042098015586537.
This paper tackles the way in which fans legitimise ‘whiteness’ in the pantheon of American fictional heroes. Using the 2010 internet meme calling for an African-American actor be cast as the next Spider-Man, and the replacement of Peter Parker with a character of Hispanic and African-American descent, I examine online arguments made by fans that Peter Parker and Spider-Man have been and therefore should remain white. Specifically, I am interested in the way in which fans legitimise the ‘casting’ choices of characters through the use of canon – the officially recognised history of a fictional universe – and dominant characterisations of Spider-Man as a hero.
(2015). “Fear of a black Spider-Man: racebending and the colour-line in superhero (re) casting.” Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. DOI: 10.1080/21504857.2014.994647
This paper examines the growth of Logistics Service Providers (LSP) managing metropolitan solid waste (MSW), as well as, neoliberalism’s effect on the processes that allow for urban growth. The combination of global urban growth, the expansion of monopoly capitalism and domination of neoliberal policies throughout the world has resulted in MSW management to be increasingly outsourced to third party providers. However, these providers do not merely handle MSW. Rather, these private firms treat MSW as part of an integrated supply chain in which “waste” is a commodity handled by one of its many sectorial divisions. As such, MSW is not just a component of urban growth machines, but is part of an ever accelerating treadmill of production (Schnaiberg, 1980). The concept of the ‘treadmill of production,’ is a valuable tool for understanding the growing importance of logistics in this political and economic context. While, this paper will look at this process globally, I will pay special attention to the growth of LSPs in Turkey and their expansion into Pakistan. First, I will discuss the development of MSW in Turkey since the 1990s and its relationship to LSPs, and then I will discuss the role of Turkish firms in Pakistan.
Presented on March 21, 2014 at the Urban Affairs Association Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX
This paper offers a theoretical approach to the relationship between of natural disaster and cities for a future project. As I have argued in past work, the local political-ecology of wildfire shapes the commodification process of land. Or more specifically, wildfire in the urban periphery or wildland-urban interface has a profound impact on the rent seeking behavior by local developers (Balaban & Fu 2014). Wildfire and other natural disasters, in other words play both a spatial and metabolic role in the commodification of space. In this presentation, I want to go further and argue that natural disaster functions as an urban “crisis” that allows for new forms of commodification within cities in the absence of a broader systemic crisis. As such, I look at a trialectical approach to natural disaster, capitalism and the built environment.
Presented on February 22 at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD
While Turkey and California suffer from similar wildfire risk, they have developed diametrically opposed fire suppression strategies: the former adopted an increasingly centralized strategy, while the latter dwells upon a highly decentralized system. This paper is a comparative analysis that relates the politics of land use in wild-urban interfaces (WUIs) to this divergence in firefighting strategies. Our argument is that evolution of the divergent fire suppression strategies in California and Turkey are linked to two different types of rent-seeking behavior. Developers and landed interest seek for absolute rent in Turkey and differential rent in California.
The decentralized strategy in California allows for distinguishing the property prices between areas of low and high protection and commodifies safety as a form of investment regulating the market prices of land. In Turkey, the tendency toward centralization of firefighting is a part of the composite political strategy to open new land for development by completing the hitherto unfinished cadastral records of the WUIs. Thus, the centralized firefighting strategy indirectly leads to extensive commodification of the WUIs in Turkey and expands the national land market.
(2014) w/ Utku Balaban. “Politics of Urban Development and Wildfires in California and Turkey.” Environment & Planning A. Vol. 46. No 4. pp. 820-836 DOI: 10.1068/a46163
In September of 2011, The New York Times reported that Reading, Pennsylvania had edged out Flint, Michigan as having the largest poverty rate amongst cities with over 65,000 residents. The article presents a fairly straightforward picture of a city that had fallen upon hard times, as job loss and lack of education allowed it to slip from the 32nd poorest city in 2000 to the poorest city in 2010 according to the U.S. Census (Tavernise 2011). This article is not surprising. In fact, stories depicting the struggles of America’s Rust Belt have been common since the 1980s. Downsizing, outsourcing and factory closures were (and still are) concepts that have framed popular political and economic discourse, as well as research on deindustrialization (Bluestone and Harrison 1982; Negrey and Zickel 1994). The article, however, like much of the literature on Rust Belt cities neglect a more long-term environmental component of urban decline. By environment, I am referring the built/physical aspect, as well as the natural/ecological dimension. Specifically, explanations for deindustrialization that emphasize aggressive corporate policies to maximize profit, or the outcome of globalization are missing 1) the role of natural resources and 2) the role of infrastructure in the built environment. This environmental dimension not only explains the shape of local decline, but helps us to understand the obstacles that affect renewal.
A version was presented at the Urban Affairs Association on Apr 6, 2013 in San Francisco, CA and the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting on August 13,2013 in New York, NY.
With the end of apartheid, Johannesburg and other South African cities are now part of a new global race to ascend and to become ‘world-class’ tourist and business centers. At the center of this development is the importation of Vegas-style spectacle by local entrepreneurs, firms, and other city boosters who create fantasyscapes such as the Emperor’s Palace and GrandWest. Financed and run by South African impresarios – whose luxurious empires transcend the continent – these resorts represent not only the globalization of gaming but the way in which South African cities see themselves within the world-wide urban hierarchy. As such, this paper seeks to untangle the global and local aspects of importing fantasy into the ‘New South Africa’.
(2014) w/ Martin J. Murray. “Glorified Fantasies and Masterpieces of Deception: Importing Las Vegas into the New South Africa.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Vol. 38. No 3. pp. 843-863 DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.12006
This article examines the seemingly incongruous ways in which Shelter-in-Place (SIP) practices have been sold, deployed and discussed in Southern California to battle wildfire. In particular, this will be a critique of the technical literature and application of fire safety in housing, as well as the anthropocentric hubris that humans can outsmart wildfire. Rather than focus on the success or failure of SIP, I am situating the SIP within the context of architecture, the history of fire safety, and the push of neoliberalism. The purpose of this approach is to make SIP and fire safe home design less about technology and know-how, and more about broader social issues such as privatization and social inequality.
(2013) “The Façade of Safety in California’s Shelter-In-Place Homes: History, Wildfire and Social Consequence.” Critical Sociology. Vol. 39. No 6. pp. 833-849. DOI: 10.1177/0896920512455936
In the early twentieth century, Spanish-Colonial Revival became embedded in the local culture of Southern California. However, this architectural style did not simply appear, rather it was materialized by architects, builders, realtors, and manufacturers of construction materials who built for and sold to homeowners. This process was not simply about using “history“ and “heritage.“ Rather, these social actors had to legitimize the ubiquitous use of red-tile roofing and cement stucco to establish new aesthetic norms and conventions for the vernacular landscape. As such, this article will look at the relationship between the political economy of building and aesthetics in the shaping of the vernacular landscape.
(2012) “Materializing Spanish-Colonial Revival: The Historical Landscape and Cultural Production in Southern California.” Home Cultures. Vol. 9. No. 2. pp. 149-172. DOI: 10.2752/175174212X13325123562223
Although Spanish-Colonial Revival architecture and place-names dominates Southern California’s landscape, one also finds simulated Middle Eastern bazaars, references to Ancient Egypt, and the frequent use of iconography from the non-European Old World. While the region’s landscape is a product of bricolage and postmodern sensibilities, this article looks at the history of ‘Orientalism’ in Southern California’s built environment. In particular, I am looking at the precedents for this seemingly contradictory use of the ‘Oriental’ in the region. The ‘Oriental’ as a sinfully seductive means of creating spectacle in the built environment, is both glorified and demonized at the same time in popular discourse. For example, the ‘Oriental’ is celebrated in shopping malls, but demonized culturally and politically. However, it is in this contradiction, we can see how history and ideology has shaped the vernacular landscape. As such, this article will look at early twentieth century examples of the ‘Oriental’ in Spanish-Colonial Revival as a foundation to understand contradictions in the built environment, culture, and racial hierarchies.
(2011) “Contradictions in California’s Orientalist Landscape: Architecture, History & Spanish-Colonial Revival.” Cities. Vol. 28. No. 4. pp. 240-346. DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2010.09.003