Insurgent Architectures of Mobility in Gaziantep, Melbourne, and Bishan

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Nothing is easier to materialize for architecture than borders; they are, after all, only lines that requires a physical extrusion. In this text however, Merve Bedir presents three spaces assembled against the (national and international) border industrial complex in three different continents.

My research on the vocabulary of hospitality and its spaces deals with the intertwined (mis)conceptions of “host,” “guest,” and “hospitality” in relation to migration across Europe. I argue that hospitality is impossible when it comes to the relationship between the individuals and the state, because this relationship needs to be construed with reciprocal responsibilities based on rights and justice. In addition, hospitality needs to be defined as a space outside the sovereign territory of the nation state, with no predetermined expectations between the relations between “the host” and “the guest.” In this text, besides hospitality, I would like to focus on another meaning of guest, or misafir in Turkish — this etymologically goes back to its Arabic root, and relates to “xenia” in Greek — that relates to “mobility,” or “being mobile.” This meaning of guest, the notion of mobility, might allow us to rethink the possibilities of hospitality, despite the legal and spatial language of hospitality creating a hierarchy and violence in the context of (illegalized) migration.

Bedir Funambulist1
Cooking workshop at the Kitchen. Photo by Merve Bedir (2017).

In Mobility, Justification and the City (2001), Bülent Diken and Niels Albertsen summarise the concept of “mobility” and its regimes of justification: mobility refers to global movements of people, as well as the expansion of urbanization, and in this way transcends and disrupts deterministic ideas of society and nation state. Power and freedom today is distributed through the possibility of mobility. Mobility is relational; being a matter of choice for some, and fate for others. Mobility is paradoxical; differentiating the human condition rather than unifying it. Bodily immobility might exist in parallel to mobility of one’s mind. Here, I will focus on two meanings of the concept as Diken and Albertsen explain in their article: first, “mobility in opinion” as recognition of others, to be visible, and to be entitled to influence others. What is undesirable is to be forgotten, hidden, and to appear as a blurred image. Second, “mobility in civics,” as the people’s common will and equality. Here mobility does not depend on persons, but on collectivities and representation, and relates to slowing down. I will elaborate on the notion of misafir, a person in mobility, based on these two meanings, and three insurgent and situational architectures in Gaziantep, Melbourne, and Bishan. In these particular spaces, I will articulate mobility as a disruption to the nation state’s colonial, racial, and ethnic identity politics of population control.