MERVE BEDIR /// 2.5 Million Refugees in Turkey: A Few Architectural and Linguistic Considerations


This conversation addresses an important aspect of Merve Bedir’s work (along with Jason Hilgefort at Land+Civilization Compositions) regarding the architectural and linguistic dimension of Turkish politics regarding the 2.5 million refugees the country currently “hosts” — the very notions of “host” and “guest” are the first things discussed here. Through the description of several sites of either appropriation or dispossession/detention by and of refugee bodies in Istanbul and in other regions of Turkey, we try to think of the architect’s political role and responsibility, remembering however that we must always doubt of our own actions when they have such drastic consequences.

Merve Bedir is an architect and researcher. She is the partner of Rotterdam I Istanbul based office (L+CC) and a PhD candidate in Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture. She was a curator for the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) in 2012, producing Agoraphobia (a documentary film on urban transformation in Turkey) and researching vacancy in buildings in Istanbul, Shenzhen, Budapest, Rotterdam. Since 2011, she has been working on migration and refugees. She taught a summer school for Columbia University GSAPP about refugees in Amman and Istanbul and curated an exhibition on refugees in Istanbul, named Vocabulary of Hospitality. Her first book with the same title will be published soon from dpr-Barcelona. Merve was the curator of “uncommon river” One Architecture Week 2015, in Plovdiv. The architecture week focused on Maritsa river, a river that runs through Plovdiv and makes the border between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece. Currently, she is part of Aformal Academy: Re-learning the City program in Shenzhen. See her Funambulist contributor page.

L+CC’s work took part and was exhibited in ZigZagCity (Rotterdam), Berlin Architecture Center (DAZ), African Center for Cities (Cape Town), UABB, Pakhuis de Zwijger (Amsterdam), Studio X Bejing, Hong Kong University/Shanghai Study Center, EPFL, Macau, Cairo and Cottbus Universities, Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre, Budapest, Lisbon and Istanbul Architecture and Urbanism Film Festivals, The Hague Art Academy, Lusofna University, among others. Merve has published in uncube, Shanghai Flaneur, homeland, One World (Dutch), Interartive, Volume, MONU, SRO (Dutch), Docomomo, and Quaderns, in addition to specific pieces related with her PhD. She also blogs for Cairobserver and Failed Architecture, from time to time.

– “Guest Column: A New Parliament in Rojava, Kurdistan,” in The Funambulist 3 (Jan-Feb 2016) Clothing Politics.
– “Guest Column: Coup Attempt in Turkey and ‘Democracy Watch’,” in The Funambulist 7 (Sept-Oct 2016) Health Struggles.


– Stuard Elden, “Michel Foucault on refugees – a previously untranslated interview from 1979,” on Progressive Geographies (Sept. 29, 2015).
– Barçın Yinanç, “Transit migrants turning into labor migrants in Turkey,” on Hurriyet Daily News (Dec. 8, 2014).
– Nicolas Niarchos, “An Island of Refugees,” on The New Yorker (Sept. 16, 2015).
– Frances Stonor Saunders, “Where on Earth Are You?,” in London Review of Books (March 2016).

– Jacques Derrida, Of Hospitality (Anne Dufourmantelle, ed.), Stanford University Press, 2000.