Research output: Two research projects, two special issues, two articles, and new prospects

Research output: Two research projects, two special issues, two articles, and new prospects

Two research projects (DIVERCITIES and PARCOUR) that I took a leading role are completed in the last few years. Time to harvest. Both projects went over the complexities of urban governance though studying two completely different issue areas and by deploying different research methods and approaches: the former on governance of urban diversity, and the latter on contractual urban governance. DIVERCITIES project is completed a while ago (2015) but we are still producing publications and leading discussions in the field of governing urban diversity. Within that framework Mike Raco and myself put together a collection of articles in a special issue which is recently published at European Urban and Regional Studies under the title “Governing urban diversity: Multi-scalar representations, local contexts, dissonant narratives”. In our editorial introduction Mike and I clarified our approach to urban diversity, and emphasized the lack of evidence-based research on how representations of diversity are mobilised and implemented by institutions of governance operating at multiple scales and how these narratives relate to each other. The special issue aims to fill the gap by providing research outcomes from the DIVERCITIES project in order provide a clear understanding of how diversity is understood, operationalised and dealt with at different scales of policy-making. The collection contains four articles namely:

Saeys, A., Van Puymbroeck, N., Albeda, Y., Oosterlynck, S., & Verschraegen, G. (2019). From multicultural to diversity policies: Tracing the demise of group          representation and recognition in a local urban context. European Urban and Regional Studies26(3), 239–253.

Angelucci, A., Marzorati, R., & Barberis, E. (2019). The (mis)recognition of diversity in Italy between policy and practice: The case of Milan. European Urban and Regional Studies, 26(3), 254–267.

Yenigun, O., & Eraydin, A. (2019). Governing urban diversity in Istanbul: Pragmatic and non-discriminatory solutions of governance initiatives in response to politicisation of diversity. European Urban and Regional Studies, 26(3), 268–282.

Escafré-Dublet, A., & Lelévrier, C. (2019). Governing diversity without naming it: An analysis of neighbourhood policies in Paris. European Urban and Regional Studies26(3), 283–296.

Moreover, Sara Ozogul and myself published a recent article based on our research findings in Toronto at diSP-The Planning Review journal. In this paper we linked wider structuring forces, particularly those connected to neoliberal shifts in spatial planning and governance to “place-making” from a governance point of view. Sara recently completed her PhD under my supervision and is working as a post-doc researcher within the framework of our new research project WHIG. Full reference to our paper is: Özogul, S., & Tasan-Kok, T. (2018). Exploring Transformative Place-Making within the Comprehensive Spatial Governance of Toronto. disP-The Planning Review, 54(4), 59-73. You can read the paper here.

DIVERCITIES project produced many more publications as it was a large-scale EU funded project with 14 partner countries in the consortium. You can see more publications made by other partners in this project here

PARCOUR project was completed just last year and we had some publications immediately after completing this project. I was the PI of this project, which was on contracts which are increasingly used as planning tools to regulate the actions of public, private, and civil actors involved in urban regeneration. Martijn van den Hurk worked as a post-doc researcher and project manager, and after a careful (detective-like) fieldwork to collect contractual information, co-authored some publications with me and others. In this project we argued that there are important implications of contractual planning for sustainable urban development, public accountability, and the public interest at large and we conducted a comparative research in the Netherlands, UK and Brazil. Among many dissemination activities our most recent one is a theme issue on Complex planning landscapes: regimes, actors, instruments and discourses of contractual urban development, which was published by European Planning Studies in March 2019. This special issue collects our main findings from the project and provides a collection of articles that contribute to a better understanding of the complex dynamics of property-led planning and urban governance. In this collection, we did not only provide empirical evidence to illustrate the sophisticated regimes, actors, instruments and discourses involved in it, but also offered new ways to understand private sector involvement in public planning. Rob Atkinson and Maria Lucia Refinetti Martins joined me for the editorial which you can read here. The EPS Team issue contained 6 articles which you can see below:

Tuna Tasan-Kok, Rob Atkinson & Maria Lucia Refinetti Martins (2019) Complex planning landscapes: regimes, actors, instruments and discourses of contractual urban development, European Planning Studies, 27:6, 1059-1063,

Mike Raco, Nicola Livingstone & Daniel Durrant (2019) Seeing like an investor: urban development planning, financialisation, and investors’ perceptions of London as an investment space, European Planning Studies, 27:6, 1064-1082,

Rob Atkinson, Andrew Tallon & David Williams (2019) Governing urban regeneration in the UK: a case of ‘variegated neoliberalism’ in action?, European Planning Studies, 27:6, 1083-1106, (

Tuna Tasan-Kok, Martijn van den Hurk, Sara Özogul & Sofia Bittencourt (2019) Changing public accountability mechanisms in the governance of Dutch urban regeneration, European Planning Studies, 27:6, 1107-1128, (

Maria Lucia Refinetti Martins & Alvaro Luis dos Santos Pereira (2019) Urban Regeneration in the Brazilian urban policy agenda, European Planning Studies, 27:6, 1129-1145, (

Willem K. Korthals Altes (2019) Multiple land use planning for living places and investments spaces, European Planning Studies, 27:6, 1146-1158, (

Among these, paper that I co-authored with the members of the Amsterdam team on Changing public accountability mechanisms in the governance of Dutch urban regeneration, presented part of our research results. Dutch urban regeneration has demonstrated changing governance principles and dynamics in the last three decades. Representing instrumental and institutional measures, we connect accountability mechanisms to these changes and argue that they ‘co-exist’ in multiple forms across different contexts. This article embeds this evolution in wider theoretical discussions on the changing relationships between public and private sector actors in urban governance relative to the changing role of the state, and it addresses questions on who can be held accountable, and to what extent, when public sector actors are increasingly retreating from regulatory practices while private sector actors play increasingly prominent roles. You can read more here:

Although I will keep working on the findings of these projects and publishing, I am super excited to start the fieldwork of the WHIG project, which examines the impact of contemporary investment flows in major European cities and the governance  arrangements and public policy instruments that are designed to govern them. We will mainly study the property markets, especially dealing with the residential property production in Amsterdam, London and Paris to investigate how the actors, processes and institutions change in the governance of cities due to financialization dynamics. More to follow…

Consensus hunters? Exploring the role of planners in the era of post-politics

Consensus hunters? Exploring the role of planners in the era of post-politics

I have recently co-authored an article with Dr. Esin Ozdemir, who have been visiting TUDelft as a TUBITAK post-doc fellow for a year while I was still working there. The article, which is published by Urban Studies, explores the meaning of “post-politics” in planning practice, especially taking the angle of the planning professionals/practitioners. Post-political literature, which aims to conceptualize the crisis of representative democracy, is very critical on the idea of ‘consensus-building’. Based on qualitative research data, our article argues that post-political scholars overlook the potential of consensus-seeking, and very statically defining ‘consensus’ as a tool for exclusionary practices and the agency of planners. We followed a more constructive approach to consensus-building as our research shows that it is a dynamic and sensitive process. We interviewed practicing planners in Amsterdam and learn from their experiences that in the highly institutionalised Dutch planning system consensus-building does not necessarily prevent effective voicing of disagreement. In fact, planners could facilitate consensus through accommodative roles that address disagreement by taking an adaptive, proactive and more human stance.

To know more please read our article, which is published as Open Access by Urban Studies.

Modernist planning: What  went wrong?

Modernist planning: What went wrong?

Street view from Jane-Finch (Photo: Tuna Tasan-Kok)

“What went wrong with Bijlmer?” A student asked from the back of the class during the lecture on planning history in the Introduction to Urban Planning course that I’m coordinating at our Bachelor programme in UvA. We were discussing “city scientific”, a period of planning defined by Peter Marcuse (2016) referring to the products of modernity. Amsterdam’s Bijlmermeer project was one of those ‘scientific outputs’ of the era. This made me think of my own experience during a field trip for DIVERCITIES research in Toronto. While driving for the first time through the streets of Jane-Finch neighbourhood, another experimental product of modernist planning, I could immediately understand ‘what went wrong’. Forgotten human scale, disconnected spaces through high-way like infrastructure and borderless/meaningless empty “green” spaces, no shops or places to meet….feeling of loneliness and emptiness, feeling lost and out of place…kind of a feeling that makes you think something terribly wrong has happened. As elaborated elsewhere obsession with creating the ‘perfectly functioning space’ constricted modernist architects’ (like Le Corbusier) view of the people for whom they designed the city in the first place. This was the era where architects were envisioning and designing cities for people. This was before “planning” emerged as a discipline with its roots in diverse social sciences fields. Jane-Finch neighborhood in Toronto was developed as a modernist suburb during the 1960s, based on principles of large green space, wide avenues and high-rise apartment buildings. Today it is one of the most stigmatised neighbourhoods in the city with the largest concentrations of criminal gangs of any area in Canada. Jane-Finch is also one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in Toronto, although this does not get as much media coverage as the crime rates. Jane- Finch, houses a large immigrant population and diverse groups, but thanks to its community-planning tradition, some social transformations are taking place there and turning a stigmatised rundown area into a community hub. People of Jane-Finch find their own ways to make connections and create a very strong
feeling of “community”. Read more

Divercities Handbook

Divercities Handbook

A Handbook for Governing Urban Diversity, the DIVERCITIES handbook and final deliverable for the EU FP7 funded DIVERCITIES project, is out now. It features detailed information gleaned from DIVERCITIES research in 14 countries by a team of 60+ international researchers who interviewed over 140 interesting local initiatives. The aim of the handbook is to provide insight for policy makers on how to improve social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance in cities and to give policy makers ideas on how to unlock the positive aspects of urban diversity.

It is available as a PDF on the DIVERCITIES website.

Toronto City Book

Toronto City Book

The Toronto City Book brings together four years of in-depth research undertaken in the Jane and Finch district in the northwest of Toronto as part of the EU funded DIVERCITIES project. As the Team Leader for the book my role was to oversee the research and content. Toronto, unlike many of its European counterparts, takes a positive approach to diversity, as reflected in its official slogan: Diversity our Strength. Nonetheless, Toronto’s approach has also been criticized for utilizing diversity as a marketable asset (Boudreau et al., 2009) or for ignoring unemployment, poverty and the issue of socio-spatial inequality. The district has a population of approximately 80,000 residents, making Jane and Finch truly hyper-diverse with regard to many indicators including ethnic and cultural background, place of origin, legal status, income, age, educational level, housing and the built environment. The Toronto City Book can be downloaded as a PDF from the DIVERCITIES website.