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16.2 Uneven rural development in times of the polycrisis

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
15:45 - 17:15


Dr. Sezai Ozan Zeybek
Researcher, Faculty Member
ASH Berlin

"Land Belongs to Itself": Property, Commodification and Land Reforms in Turkey


This paper discusses the premises and impacts of a big-scale, ambitious rural project from Turkey, which aims to turn agricultural lands into financial assets by merging them into bigger parcels and bringing them into "sellable, marketable" sizes. Since 2014, 8,5 million hectares of land, 1/3 of all arable lands, were consolidated, that is, fragmented lands brought together under fewer owners.

The average farm size is 54 hectares in England, 52 in France, 46 in Germany, and 6 hectares in Turkey. The pronounced objective is to "scale up" the lands and match the European farm sizes. Yet, the interventions do not simply alter the size but also attempt to integrate farmlands into land markets, and ultimately, into the financial system. The program foresees founding a landbank, attracting corporate investors, and establishing a more liquid market. It presents a new, entrepreneurial vision for agricultural production. All this is happening in the face of a water crisis, drought and unsustainable financial debts of farmers.

I assess the premises and vision of the program, which are based on private property and faith in markets. I make a theoretical intervention with regard to the imagination of property. Based on my research that involved interviews with farmers, review of government reports, and newspaper articles, as well as historical research on land governance in Turkey, I will argue that the current private property regime in the land makes farmers all the less resilient, especially in the face of a climate crisis and against banks.
Simla Şanlı
Master's Student (Architecture); Research Assistant (Architecture)
Middle East Technical University | Başkent University

Production of nature in Işkencedere Valley: the Cevi̇zli̇k Quarry project


In relation to global urbanization, mega-corporations rule the market with the support of the state by promoting mega-scale projects as an instrument for economic growth. The enormous scale of these projects brings the urban-rural and the society-nature discussions into account, including the social, spatial, ecological, and economic issues. This research examines the socio-spatial production processes of mega-projects through the faculties of the production of nature, which could offer an alternative mindset in understanding the urban-rural and the society-nature relationships. The production of nature claims that nature is social, and thus our relationship with nature is always political. Within the said framework, the study questions the massive destruction and construction processes in the rural areas in the black sea region of Turkey by focusing on one of the controversial projects, the Cevizlik Quarry Project in İşkencedere Valley in Rize. The stone quarry's whole mining/construction processes are to cause an extensive decline of the valley’s socio-natural life along with the destruction of forest/wilderness and agricultural lands and the displacement of the local people in Gürdere Village. So, the locals are resisting the project since April 2021, when the construction started. Studying the said processes with a historical-geographical materialist approach and making use of feminist methodologies, the research fieldwork uses participatory observation and open-ended interviews with the actors of the production process and the struggle.
Dr. Szabolcs Fabula
Assistant Professor
University of Szeged

The everyday experiences of uneven development and global polycrisis – lessons from rural Hungary


With a bioregional approach, we aim to understand the effects of polycrisis on the social and natural environment in a particular geographical area of Hungary, the Danube-Tisza Ridge (Sand Ridge). Covering approximately 10,000 square kilometres (one tenth of the country’s territory) the Sand Ridge is considered to be a semidesert, one of the losers of climate change influencing the area’s socio-economic development. To face future challenges, ecologists agree that precipitation drainage methods need to be altered, agricultural practices contributing to soil erosion need to stop in the area.

As part of the ’Marginalised Space Experience in the Context of Uneven Geographical Development’ research project (project no. 138713, 2021-2025) funded by the Hungarian National Research, Development, and Innovation Fund (K_21 funding scheme) we selected two settlements from the Sand Ridge: the small town of Kecel (9,000 residents) and the village of Jászszentlászló (2,600 residents). Both municipalities have a significant agricultural and food industry in their economy. Furthermore, they have major environmental problems (e.g., drought in these years has been highlighted in the media, and decreasing groundwater level has been a problem for decades). Both settlements have a high deprivation index (Koós 2015), and are located in disadvantaged LAU1 districts (Government Decree 290/2014 (26.XI.)).

To better understand how landscape changes in the two case-study settlements intersect with processes of uneven development and the everyday life experiences of the marginalized stakeholders of the agricultural industry, we combine documentary analysis (national, regional, local development documents, articles) with land use transformation data and semi-structured interviews.
Dr. Frans Thissen
University of Amsterdam

From enchantment to disenchantment; imaginations of changing villages in Dutch and Flemish novels


Imaginations of the rural in the popular discourse are reflected and partly (re)produced in literature. The enchantment of the rural idyl, one of the most powerful ideas about the rural and a pull-factor in counterurbanisation and rural tourism, developed by transitions like industrialisation and modernisation towards notions of backwardness and poverty. The regionalisation in the second half of the twentieth century caused the (temporal) re-enchantment of the (suburban) village.
This paper tries to answer the question how recent changes in villages originating from transitions like globalisation are described and used as a socio-spatial context in novels in the Dutch language published in this century. A content analysis of eight novels recently published in The Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch speaking part of Belgium), in which ‘the village’ functions as a socio-spatial context, is used to answer this question. The results of the content analysis will be confronted with the results of survey research of changing Dutch and Flemish villages and the role of imaginations in the evaluation of transitions by villagers and rural policymakers.

Session host

Simon Dudek
KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Andreas Kallert
KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Michael Mießner
Associate Professor
Trier University



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl