Conflict Geographies of Water Pollution in Thrace Region of Turkey
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This thesis addresses the tension between industrial development policies and environmental protection and the rising pollution levels in the City of Lüleburgaz in Thrace region, a peripheral region of Istanbul, Turkey. The environmental narratives of second- third-generation Muslim-Balkan immigrants, who began arriving in the early 20th Century, and Kurdish migrants, who arrived in Lüleburgaz in the post-1990 era, express conflict geographies of pollution across communities and between the communities and the state. Heavy pollution in the Ergene River, where the river is declared “dead,” is not a mere accident but rather a facet of neoliberal environmental governance. A politics of non-governance Conflicting narratives of Muslim-Balkan immigrants and Kurdish migrants uncover multiple layered conflict geographies of water pollution in Thrace region by grappling with the question of how “the nation” is continously reterritorialized within neoliberalized constructions of environment and river politics at the community and policy realms. Ethnic-class segregation leads to different community demands with regard to river pollution and environmental degradation in neighbourhoods characterized by different materialities of housing and occupation, a particular facet of non-governance that creates landscapes of invisibility. This analysis contributes to theories on “actually existing neoliberalism” and the ways through which the nation and its various territorial practices at different epochs of neoliberalization processes not only create consent for neoliberalization practices, but also give way for historical and racialized ethnic conflicts to survive.