ABSTRACT

When people talk about squatting in Turkey, they usually refer to the phenomenon of gecekondu. The term (literally: ‘built overnight’) emerged in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when large numbers of peasants migrated to Istanbul (but also to other cities, especially Ankara and Izmir) where they built for themselves simple, one-story structures on the edges of the city. They did so mostly on state-owned land, effectively appropriating it for their own needs. The first scholarly definition of a gecekondu dates from 1953: “gecekondu are hastily erected buildings, lacking most of the times elementary comfort conditions, not conforming to construction regulations, and being developed regardless of landowners’ rights.”1