Protracted displacement and housing systems in intermediary cities: the case of Syrians in Torbalı, Türkiye

Dolf J. H. te Lintelo, Ayselin Yıldız, Meltem Ö. Gürel, Selin Siviş, Perin Çün, Sadaf Khan, Robert Mull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article investigates the dynamics of complex housing systems within the context of large-scale protracted displacement in Turkey/Türkiye. It presents new empirical findings from a qualitative study conducted in Torbalı, a rapidly growing intermediate city with a significant population of Syrian displaced people. Drawing on theoretical and conceptual insights from housing studies, urban studies and migration studies, the article assesses the ways in which displacement materialises in place through housing and contributes to city-making and urbanisation processes informally, incrementally, and in locally and historically contingent manners. We argue that the forms and dynamics of emerging housing exhibit both continuity but most markedly significant disjuncture from past housing trajectories in Torbalı. This challenges the implicit assumption of legal uniformity of self-builders common in incremental housing debates and suggests that the notion of incremental housing has limited relevance in contexts of protracted urban displacement. Furthermore, findings underline the significance of legal dimensions in energising housing informalities; in grading socio-legal statuses of resident populations; in bounding displaced people’s mobilities; in demarcating labour flows; in moulding rental markets; and in directing the flows of housing materials. These in turn shape current and future urban built environments and mould the ways in which the urbanisation of refuge manifests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Policy
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to express their sincere thanks to the key informant interviewees and focus group discussants for sharing their views with us. Two anonymous reviewers and Daan Bossuyt, Abigail Friendly and Femke van Noorloos provided valuable comments on a draft manuscript. This work was supported by the British Academy under grant UWB190179.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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