I have engaged with debates in urban political economy, and urban theory, with a particular concern with socio-spatial injustices and struggles over urban space. I have had three major research agendas:
1 Urban neoliberalism and its contestations in Istanbul: Since 2007, I have been working on the political economy of urban redevelopment in Istanbul. Besides urban policies, power relations, and territorial transformations I have worked on popular mobilizations around a variety of rights – be it the right to property, right to the city, or right to the urban commons.
2 Comparative urbanism: Since 2011, I have been co-managing (with Christian Schmid from ETH Zurich) a transnational comparative study based on eight large urban regions across the world (Hong Kong/Shenzhen, Tokyo, Kolkata, Lagos, Istanbul, Paris, Mexico City, and Los Angeles). The main ambition of the collective effort is to develop of new conceptual tools. In engaging with, and often challenging well-established concepts (such as gentrification, urban informality, suburbanization) we seek to contribute to the development of a replenished vocabulary for urban theory.
3 The ‘urban revolution’ and the political. In 2016, I began a new project (funded by an ERC Starting Grant) that tackles the political implications of generalized urbanization. There has been a proliferation of debates around the social, territorial, and ecological implications of global urbanization. My main objective is to foreground an urban political economy approach to conceptualize accumulation strategies based on urbanization, and to see the extent to which our ‘urban age’ corresponds to a new kind of urban politics. The project is organized around three main themes: uneven globalization of real estate markets, exploitation of urban land rent, and the ways in which these are contested at different scales. Adopting a multi-sited ethnographic approach the work is primarily based on case studies in Hong Kong, Istanbul, London and São Paulo. Filmmaking will be used both as a research method, and as a storytelling medium.
2017 Erensu, S. and Karaman, O “The work of a few trees: Gezi, politics and space.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, (part of “Theorizing the Politicizing City” Symposium (edited by Mustafa Dikeç, and Erik Swyngedouw)
2014 Karaman, O. Resisting urban renewal in Istanbul. Urban Geography (35)2: 290-310.
2013 Karaman, O. Urban Neoliberalism with Islamic Characteristics. Urban Studies, 50(16): 3412–3427. (winner of Urban Studies best article award for 2013)
2013 Karaman, O. Urban renewal in Istanbul: reconfigured spaces, robotic lives. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37(2): 715–33.
2012 Karaman, O. & Islam, T. On the dual nature of intra-urban borders: the case of a Romani neighborhood in Istanbul. Cities, 29(4): 234–243.
2012 Karaman, O. An immanentist approach to the urban. Antipode, 44(4): 1287-1306.
2008 Karaman, O. Urban pulse—(re)making space for globalization in Istanbul. Urban Geography, 29(6): 518–525.