Intimacies of ruination and accumulation along the Coruh River
Paper short abstract:
A series of dam projects are drastically altering the social and material fabric of the towns and villages in the Eastern Black Sea region, Turkey. This paper studies their twin effects of ruination and accumulation to highlight how infrastructural intimacies are conditioned by different temporalities.
Paper long abstract:
Ten big dams planned to be built or already constructed along the Çoruh River in Turkey are drastically altering the social and material fabric of the towns and villages in the Çoruh valley. In particular, two mammoth projects - recently opened Deriner Dam and currently built Yusufeli Dam - are at the center of controversy for entailing the submergence of an entire town center (Yusufeli) and several villages, and the resettlement of more than twenty-thousand residents. In this paper, I am interested in understanding how the planning, imagining and building of the future through hydro-electricity is endured by local residents, activists and politicians. Some local environmental activists have written a letter addressed to the "future" and buried it underneath a kümbet (a mausoleum-like structure built by the Seljuks in the 13th century) right before its flooding by the reservoir of the Deriner Dam. The mayor of Yusufeli, on the other hand, speaks about his plans for building a miniature replica of the current town center in the new settlement area, hoping to open up the new town to "artificial tourism". I use the conceptual twins of ruination and accumulation to make sense of such cases where "visceral engagements with time" interact with infrastructure and its effects.
Intimacies of infrastructure