Batuman, Bülent. “Political Encampment and the Architecture of Public Space:TEKEL Resistance in Ankara.” In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 2, Number 1 (pp. 77-100), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2013.
The protest encampment established by the workers of TEKEL (meaning ‘monopoly’ in Turkish), the privatized former state enterprise that had held a monopoly on the production of tobacco and alcoholic beverages since 1925, stood in downtown Ankara for two and a half months despite the harsh winter conditions of 2010. The encampment created significant political impetus although it was ultimately not successful in obtaining its goals. Nevertheless, the camp was significant in terms of the spatial formation of public space. Pursuant to the global wave of protests in 2011, apart from being a response to the deprivation created by neo-liberalism, the TEKEL resistance also generated a particular form of urban spatial encampment. This article discusses the formation of the TEKEL encampment and the applicable embodied practices that emerged from it. The TEKEL encampment is dealt with in two ways. On the one hand, it is investigated amidst the processes of appropriation of public urban space. On the other hand, it is explored through the lens of the TEKEL workers’ nomadic living conditions, dictated to them by the neo-liberal employment regime.