Gentrifying the Rural: An Ethnographic Approach to the Transformation of an Old Greek Village


Altınbaş University

11 May 2021, Tuesday, 18.00

This study scrutinizes the transformation of rural areas through gentrification and tries to move the concept of spatial segregation to the rural scale by following the path opened by the theories of space. Since 1970s, the idea that space is not a scene, but a social product produced and reproduced has become widespread. The argument that space is produced as a commodity predicts that both cities and rural areas cannot be handled independently of capitalist relations of production; therefore, the tendency to consider rural and urban as separate categories is losing its meaning day by day. Spaces defined as non-urban areas are rapidly getting their share from the demolition processes that seem to be unique to the city and are exposed to commodification processes. As a natural consequence of the tendency of capital to move towards under-used spaces, gentrification processes, which we frequently see at the urban scale, also show its effect in rural spaces. One of the main objectives of this study is to provide insight into how the gentrification is experienced on the rural scale in Turkey and to reveal the motivations of the gentrification in the countryside. Via an ethnography in Domatia (Eski Doğanbey), a small Greek village in the Menderes Delta, rural gentrification is examined as an attempt to create a hybrid village model and a practice to move urban habits to village scale. It is argued that this kind of gentrification offers a new urbanization experience on a rural scale, giving the gentrifiers the opportunity to rearrange traditional space use, economic activities and existing social order according to their own habits. The function of nature, the extent to which nature is included in and excluded from the new life model is discussed within the framework of “amenity migration.”