sowi:docs Fellows 2022

Arjin Tas

“Risky Areas” of Diyarbakir: Normalization of the use of counterinsurgency strategies in urban restructuring

Research field: social and cultural anthropology

Supervisor: Ayşe Çağlar


In August 2015, following the collapse of the tentative Peace Process in Turkey, several pro-Kurdish run municipalities declared self-governance in the Kurdish region of Turkey. In many cities, armed conflicts erupted between the Turkish armed forces and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Through the case of districts of Diyarbakir (Sur and Baglar), this research will explore the relationship between urban destruction, urban redevelopment, and counterinsurgency strategies with a particular focus on dispossession and displacement. The main question of this research is: How are the urban counterinsurgency strategies, developed during the urban conflict, normalized and generalized by the state? The theoretical framework of this research lies at the intersection of urban redevelopment, urban destruction, and counterinsurgency. The case material will be based on qualitative and quantitative data from different sources, visualization through maps and pictures, and ethnographic fieldwork in Diyarbakir. I hypothesize that urban destruction, forceful displacement, dispossession, and urban redevelopment as counterinsurgency strategies, which were developed and employed in the context of the exceptional urban warfare in Sur, are turning into common practices by the Turkish state to subjugate the low-income Kurdish population living in clustered spaces that are deemed dangerous – “risky” – for the state. My research aims to contribute to the literature on urban and conflict studies by demonstrating how conflict and counterinsurgency get spatialized and how the socio-spatial environment is turned into a tool for counterinsurgency through urban redevelopment in the subjugation of people.


Aleksandra Wojewska

Price formation and socio-ecological transformation in global production networks: The cases of cobalt and lithium in Sub-Saharan Africa

Research field: development studies

Supervisor: Cornelia Staritz


Although an important literature is concerned with the financialisation of commodity derivative markets and how it has impacted commodity prices, this literature generally does not focus on how futures prices are taken up in physical production and trade. This missing interrelation between financial and physical spheres also applies to global production network (GPN) research, as the determination of world prices on financial markets and their transmission to physical actors in commodity trade has been largely sidelined. This is problematic as price formation processes influence what is captured in prices, how value and risks are distributed among actors and locations in GPNs, thus contributing to processes constituting unequal relations and outcomes in GPNs. In my dissertation, I analyse how the financial trading processes result in the determination of world prices on metal markets. I trace across scales – from derivative markets to mines – how the resulting world prices are taken up by different actors in GPNs. Based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, I empirically apply this approach to the GPNs of cobalt and lithium – two minor metals crucial for the transition to e-mobility. In particular, I focus on cases of three producer countries – DRC and Zambia for cobalt and Zimbabwe for lithium. As an outcome of my research, I focus on the distributive implications of price formation in terms of two key impacts – value capture and price risks.

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