Politics in the Crevices: Urban Design and the Making of Property Markets in Cairo and Istanbul
In Politics in the Crevices, Sarah El-Kazaz takes readers into the world of urban planning and design practices in Istanbul and Cairo. In this transnational ethnography of neighborhoods undergoing contested rapid transformations, she reveals how the battle for housing has shifted away from traditional political arenas onto private crevices of the city. She outlines how multiple actors—from highly capitalized international NGOs and corporations to city dwellers, bureaucrats, and planning experts—use careful urban design to empower conflicting agendas, whether manipulating property markets to protect affordable housing or corner luxury real estate. El-Kazaz shows that such contemporary politicizations of urban design stem from unresolved struggles at the heart of messy transitions from the welfare state to neoliberalism, which have shifted the politics of redistribution from contested political arenas to design practices operating within market logics, ultimately relocating political struggles onto the city's most intimate crevices. In so doing, she raises critical questions about the role of market reforms in redistributing resources and challenges readers to rethink neoliberalism and the fundamental ways it shapes cities and polities.
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