Monday, August 22, 2005

Kuba, a gecekondu community in Istanbul

Turkish-born artist Kutlug Ataman's latest video installation: 40 televisions featuring 40 stories from Kuba, a small gecekondu, or squatter community, near Istanbul's airport. This article from Britain's Guardian Unlimited gives a description. I missed the work last year. I'd like to see it now. Istanbul is 40 percent squatter-built, and it's important for artists to seek out the history and stories of these communities, as they are key components of the modern city.


Anonymous said...

I am interested in knowing what local organizations you ran across or know of from your studies which seek to mobilize squatters to acquire/defend the rights to their homes. I run an organization called Free the Poor ( which seeks to highlight such struggles. Any help or collaboration would be much appreciated. Thank you so much for this important and informative blog.

Lawrence Locklin said... email address is Thank you.

rn said...


You ask the $64 million question. Simply put, there's not enough organizing/mobilization going on in the world's squatter communities.

Here's a rundown of what I know first-hand:

1. Nivara Hakk Suraksha Samiti is a muscular group in Mumbai, India. It isn't afraid to bring people onto the streets and even to confront the police. Its leadership, though, is professional--architect P.K. Das, journalist Gurbir Singh, and actress Shabana Azmi, among others. So Nivara, sadly, is not building local leadership, which is part of what is needed to enable these communities to resist eviction and empower themselves.

2. The National Slum Dwellers Federation (and its allied entity, Slum Dwellers International) are headquartered in Mumbai. NSDF and SDI create savings associations as a tool for empowering squatters. But they, too, seem to have some issues identifying and building local leadership and engaging in power politics and confrontations. Its most readily identifiable squatter leader is Jockin Arputham. Most of the other high-powered folks in the group are professionals.

3. In Kenya, Christ the King Catholic Church in Kibera is working mightily to protect people's rights. To be frank, the group is a bit afraid of organizing, and concentrates on human rights and legal issues. Still, it does provide a forum for Kibera residents to engage in civic education and empowerment.

If I can think of more community groups that might interest you, I'll post more about them. If anyone out there knows things about other groups, don't hesitate to add to this dialogue.

penchenk said...