Fluid destinies: politics of water in the eastern Black Sea region of Turkey
Erdem Evren (Leibniz-ZMO)
Paper short abstract:
This paper looks at the interaction between hydro-power energy investments and oppositional politics of water in the context of the eastern Black Sea region of Turkey. I will focus on the changes affecting the lived environment and the transformations of political subjectivities.
Paper long abstract:
Despite renewed fears about the Islamist-conservative credentials of Turkey's ruling Justice and Progress Party (AKP), the party's distinct mark in the past decade has actually been a rampant developmentalism that is drastically transforming the rural and the urban settings alike. An ambitious series of projects concerning hydro-power currently raises strong opposition from a mixed coalition of people including socialists, anarchists, environmentalists, peasants, Kurdish activists and professional middle classes around the country. As of now, there are 2000 small-scale hydro-electric plants capable of producing energy. In total, 10,000 of these plants are planned to be completed until 2020 which will by then constitute a quarter of the total energy production of the country. Local activist initiatives established in different parts of the country resist against these projects on the grounds of deforestation, decreasing access to the commons, loss of water, and damage on biodiversity, through legal interventions and popular protests. I will look at the changes in the lived environment that take place as a result of the shifting constellations of nature, energy and politics. Based on my research on the eastern Black Sea region, I study the interaction between the economic reorganization of energy resources and the oppositional political practices to understand how social and spatial relations are transformed. The material restructuring of valleys and rivers via the construction of hydro-power plants, I will argue, has a transformative effect on the political subjectivities of the local people, eliciting a number of new perceptions, ambitions and desires.