InDifference. Living together (apart) in a Turkish Urban Neighbourhood

Daniela Dietz


The setting of my ethnographic research is a poor neighbourhood in Istanbul, which is being exposed to gentrification projects. It has been since at least three decades an arrival zone for internal and, increasingly, for transnational migrants, who rub shoulder with each other, as well as with long-time residents and first gentrifiers. I investigate here, how difference is constructed or, more specifically, how actors categorize each other and in what way this is linked to cooperation and conflict. My data shows that difference is constructed differently through different categories; categories are not just categories but may differ in configuration and scope. It shows as well that the relationship between categorization and action seems not to be a definite one in this neighbourhood; in some cases the use of a category goes together with a certain interaction pattern, in other cases, difference constructed through classification does not mean much in interaction. Besides, there are socially significant differences, which are not constructed through verbal concepts. Interestingly, apart from an ambiguous relationship between categorization and action, my data shows further that people want this relationship to be so vague. Even though there are discourses on categorical differences and there are mutual prejudices, in concrete situations of conflict people prefer not to stick to them as explanatory frameworks. There is a tendency of staying open or constructing certain differences in limbo. This is why I chose the title InDifference.