Waiting for justice amidst the remnants: urban development, displacement and resistance in Diyarbakir

Sardar Saadi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper looks into the lives of displaced people and their material bonds with the past while waiting for justice during exceptional times in Diyarbakir, Turkey’s Kurdistan. Diyarbakir is known for its central location in the Kurdish conflict in Turkey for many decades. In August 2015, the old city of Diyarbakir called Sur joined other resisting cities and districts in the Kurdish region of Turkey, where Kurdish militants built barricades all around their controlled neighbourhoods against the state’s violent attacks and declared autonomy. Months after the beginning of the resistance, the Turkish state managed to take back control of Sur after heavy clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants. All the resisting neighbourhoods of Sur were razed to the ground, and close to 24,000 residents were displaced. Since then, a massive urban transformation project for Sur has been in the making. The everyday survival of the displaced people from Sur depends on the ways they negotiate with the state in a long process of waiting. Bringing together different accounts of waiting, I intend to shed light on temporal dimensions of forced displacement embedded in the remnants of the past and shaped by present history of subjugation and state violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-861
JournalSocial Anthropology
Issue number3
Early online date31 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • displacement
  • Kurds
  • rubble
  • urban development
  • waiting


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