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Annalena Di Giovanni MA BA

Annalena Di Giovanni MA BA

PhD student in Human Geography

Biography

Career

  • 2011-2012 American university of Beirut, Graduate Research Assistant, Lebanon
  • 2006-2011 Various media, Middle East Politics Reporter

Qualifications

  • PhD student, Human Geography, University of Cambridge (2013 - present)
  • MA., Political Science, American University of Beirut (2010 - 2013)
  • BA., Eastern History (major Law of Islamic Countries), University of Bologna (2001 - 2005)

Research

I research on the cultural political economy behind the State—‐lead transformation of Istanbul, Beirut, and Arab Gulf cities. My current project maps AKP—‐led entrepreneurialism in Istanbul, particularly the branding strategies behind the transformation of Beyoğlu.

Street View: Chronicles of Coexistence In The Age of HyperIstanbul

"Hyperistanbul" is how urban sociologist Jean Jacques Perouse has labeled the spectacular urban transformation promoted by the Municipality of Istanbul under the leadership of the Justice And Development Party (hereinafter: AKP). There are currently 48 neighbourhood renovatıons planned by the Greater Istanbul Municipality; among them the Great Beyoğlu Transformation plan, with its focus on the Istiklal Street area where up to three million people stroll and thrive on a daily basis, is the first one explicitly aimed at reshaping public space.

This study moves from an interest in the publicness of this crowded avenue and, as the title states, aims to chronicle how street life in Istiklal Caddesi is being materially and discursively transformed through the Great Beyoğlu Transformation plan. What is questioned is how the political economy of HyperIstanbul impacts social practices, rituals, and convivial routines. My underlying assumption is that walking across Istiklal - the act of being present, exposing and being exposed to, diversity in its most ordinary and anonymous form and beyond the familiar networks of family, work, friendship or economic transactions - is how identities, groups, classes and roles weave citizenship together.

To chronicle how street life is - or is not - transformed, I am to approach the transformation of Istiklal from two different viewpoints. One is to define transformation in its macroprocessual dimension. This is to be done through a Cultural Political Economic framework which questions the policies, the knowledge brands, the representations, the constraints and beliefs that shape the materialities, and therefore the social occurrences of Istiklal. The second is to monitor the micropractices of Istiklal as transformation advances: if groups and their rituals are affected, how they reconfigure their everyday presence, which identities are concealed and which favored. This is to be done through an ethnographic observation that will combine both visual methods, note, interviews and elicitations. Multiscalar approaches to the transformation of Istiklal are to be framed as an extended case study, which allows to focus on everyday life and space-making practices to gain in-depth understandings of larger political economic processes.

External activities

Outside research I spend my free time between drawing comics, playing double bass, staring at maps and cooking pasta.