In this article, the authors explore recent developments in urban regeneration in Istanbul, and specifically in the important historic district of Beyoğlu. In one respect, these developments, which are linked to the promotion of cruise ship tourism, are on the same predictable lines as neoliberal projects in other cities across the world. Significantly, in the Istanbul context, local agency is being sidelined, and projects are being financed and managed through the intervention of the central state. In this Turkish version of urban transformation, however, there is a locally distinctive aspect that merits attention. Istanbul is a city that was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453, and the discourse of conquest has remained significant within the urban imaginary. And at the present time, it is being mobilized by the state and its cultural ministry, in the cause of creating a new urban image conforming to its Islamist principles. The key project involves the establishment of what is called the Beyoğlu Cultural Route, which is essentially a touristic itinerary. The authors argue that the state's initiatives, and the route project in particular, involve an erasure—a conquest—of Beyoğlu's legacy of cosmopolitan values. This discussion explores what has been of civic and cultural value in the lifeworld of Beyoğlu, past and present. Resistance to the state's control of resources and institutions, and to its conquest ideology, needs to be grounded in civic principles open to diversity and difference in the city.

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