Recent protests and upcoming elections have again raised the visibility of Turkey and Indonesia, and particularly their respective Muslim mega-cities, Istanbul and Jakarta, as locations seeing the rise of a new kind of Islamic urbanism, culture and politics. On the one hand, they are praised as shining examples in debates on alternate modernities, Islam and democracy, with stunning development dynamics framing a rapid change in populace and their urban landscapes. On the other, their economic transformation is hitched to populist politics that have raised concern worldwide about the imposition of “neo-liberal” policies, authoritarian planning, and the suppression of opposition groups and human rights activists. Both countries see elections coming in 2014. One of the most popular potential candidates in the Indonesian race is increasing his popularity through regular surprise visits to Jakarta’s vast slums. What role do discussions of urban space and Islamic consumption play in the elections in both countries? What are the emerging problems and what can we learn from the parallels and differences of the cases?
Our one day conference seeks to juxtapose the cities of Istanbul and Jakarta, as well as other urban examples from Turkey and Indonesia, through an exploratory discussion of the ways in which Islamic values and ideology are linked to new forms of urban development and urban lifestyle that pose questions to existing global city paradigms. At the center of this lies the emergence of new, business oriented, conservative, Islamic middle classes who have provided the mass political movement behind the ruling powers. Our exploration will be both top down and bottom up: looking at urban development policies and the economic interests that drive them, their transformation of the city and the new divisions and contests they are producing; and at the new and fast developing consumer lifestyles created by these changes, linked to suburban housing, gated communities, shopping malls, private schooling and affluence — particularly as experienced with the changing place of women in these societies.
We invite a number of experts on Turkey and Indonesia respectively for a comparative discussion. We also reach out to the community of interested scholars in the New York area, especially those interested in urban planning, changing religious or religiously-themed lifestyles, and new elites.
Though subject to change, the currently planned schedule is below. Details will be added soon; please check back.
10:00am – 12:00pm
Panel I: Urban Planning
Sarah Moser, McGill: “Pan-Islam and Racial Politics in Southeast Asian Urban Form”
Asu Aksoy, İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi: “How is Istanbul Changing under Conservative Rule?”
Chaired by Adrian Favell, Sciences Po, Paris
12:00pm – 1:00pm
1:00pm – 4:00pm
Panel II: Muslim Urban Lifestyles
Hew Wai Weng, Zentrum Moderner Orient: “Materialising Islam: Spatial Formation of Muslim Middle Class in Urban Indonesia”
Carla Jones, University of Colorado Boulder: “Style on Trial: Consumption, Corruption, and Visibility in Jakarta”
Ayşe Çavdar, Global Prayers: “Right to the City for Believers: Building a Religious City in Istanbul”
Chaired by Saskia Schäfer, Columbia University
4:00pm – 5:00pm
Karen Barkey, Columbia University