DOI: 10.1177/00220094231195768 ISSN:

A Turkish Mayor Goes to Moscow: Vedat Dalokay and Development Politics in the 1970s

Samuel J. Hirst, Aydın Khajei, Deniz Kaptan
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • History
  • Cultural Studies

In 1975, the mayor of Ankara requested Soviet assistance to build a public transportation system and affordable housing in the Turkish capital. This article uses Vedat Dalokay's appeal as a window into international development politics during a transformative decade. The 1970s saw growing leftism in Turkey, and Dalokay hoped that progressive urban planning would solidify voting trends among rural-to-urban migrants. He sought to introduce a new ideological element into Soviet–Turkish exchange, but politicians and academics in Moscow dismissed Dalokay's class-oriented projects. Instead, they increased their investments in the steel mills and electricity plants that were hallmarks of Soviet economic exchanges with the Third World. Whereas Dalokay's aspirations emerged from a Turkish intellectual climate that was being reshaped by dependency theory and by disillusionment in the possibilities for growth within boundaries defined by the political borders of nation-states, Soviet economists and bureaucrats remained wedded to the idea of development defined in terms of the territorial economy. The Ankara municipality eventually turned to Western Europe, but the Turkish government continued to negotiate gas pipelines and nuclear power plants with the Soviet and post-Soviet Russian governments. This article explores the ideological assumptions that have shaped economic exchange across the Black Sea.

More from our Archive