We the City > Speakers
Metin Akdemir

Metin Akdemir, (1984) is an artist and director. His films Geldim Gidiyorum (2011) ve Küpeli (2013) Hayalimdeki Sahneler (2020) won national and international festival awards. His films have been screened at numerous festivals, among them Berlinale, Sarajevo, IDFA, and Jihlava. Akdemir participated in the organizing committee for LGBTQ+-themed contemporary art exhibitions since 2012. He regularly puts together exhibitions featuring the work of queer-feminist artists under the series titled, "Boundary-Less"

Gürkan Akgün

Gürkan Akgün, born on May 1, 1984, in Trabzon, graduated from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Department of City and Regional Planning in 2006. He completed his Master's Degree in Urban Planning at the same university. After working as an urban planner in various companies, he worked as a Bureau Supervisor in Planning and Urban Transformation Offices within the Planning and Project Directorate of Beylikdüzü Municipality since 2012. Since 2016, he has served as the Planning and Project Manager of Beylikdüzü Municipality. Akgün, who served on the Istanbul Branch and Headquarters administrative boards of the TMMOB Chamber of City Planners between 2012 and 2016, has published many articles in various books, magazines, and newspapers about urban planning and policy. As of 18.07.2019, he was appointed as the Head of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Department of Housing and Urbanization.

Senem Kozaman Aygün

Senem Kozaman Aygün is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Architecture, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Yildiz Technical University- Istanbul. She received her bachelor’s degree in Geomatic Engineering and her Ph.D. degree from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in Yildiz Technical University. She primarily works in regional development, GIScience, social network analysis, and citizen engagement.

Rabea Berfelde

Rabea Berfelde is active in the campaign Deutsche Wohnen&Co Enteignen. She is also doing a PhD at Goldsmiths College (London) on the question of platform-mediated labor and financialized space production.

Gülçin Balamir Coşkun

Gülçin Balamir Coşkun is an associate professor of the political science. She received her PhD in International Relations from Istanbul University and MA degree from University Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne. Her BA was also in International relations at Galatasaray University, Turkey. From 2018 to 2021, she worked as an Einstein Fellow at the Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She is currently working as one of the senior research associates of the project "Judicial autonomy under authoritarian attack" at the same institute. Her research focuses on authoritarianism, judicial independence, rule of law, media capture, and digital censorship. Coşkun's current research explores the relationship between media capture and judicial capture in authoritarian contexts.

Koray Cengiz

Koray Cengiz was born in 1977. He graduated from Ankara University Faculty of Law in 2000. Since 2005, he has been the attorney and legal advisor of the Chamber of City Planners of TMMOB. He is currently working as a freelance lawyer in Ankara. It mainly works in the field of zoning legislation and administrative jurisdiction.

Wenke Christoph

Wenke Christoph is a geographer. From August 2020 to December 2021 she was Permanent Secretary for Housing in the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing. Since December 2021, Wenke Christoph is the Permanent Secretary for Integration and Social Affairs in the Berlin state government. Until August 2020 she was a consultant in the European department of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and headed the Center for International Dialogue and Cooperation in Belgrade, among other things.

Ciaran Cross

Ciaran Cross has been active in the tenants' initiative Kotti&Co since 2018 and was recently elected to the HOWOGE tenant council. Ciaran is a doctoral student at the Freie Universität Berlin (Law) and a recipient of a scholarship from the Hans Boeckler Foundation.

Tuba İnal-Çekiç

Tuba İnal-Çekiç got her Ph.D. degree from the Urban and Regional Planning Department of Yıldız Technical University-Istanbul. She moved to Germany/Berlin in June 2016. She continued her post-doc research at several German Universities. She currently works at Hertie School Berlin and her research interests are focused on urban movements and citizens’ engagement from a participatory governance perspective. 

Gökçe Dede

Gökçe Dede, born in 1979 in İstanbul, completed her education at the university in İstanbul. She graduated from Yıldız Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of City and Regional Planning in 2005. She completed her Master's Degree in Regional Planning at the İstanbul Technical University. She took part in upper-scale planning studies within the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality company Bimtaş between 2006-2009. She worked as an urban planner for 10 years in Eyüp Municipality. As of 2019, she was appointed as Deputy Director of IMM City Planning Directorate.

Fatih Doğan

Fatih Doğan, born in 1977 in Bartın, completed his education at the university, in Bartın. He graduated from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of City and Regional Planning in 2001. After working in the private sector for a while, he took part in upper-scale planning studies within the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality company Bimtaş between 2005-2008. He has been working as an urban planner at the IMM City Planning Directorate since 2008. He was appointed as City Planning Director in August 2019.

Meltem Ersan

Meltem Ersan worked for the UN Migration Agency (IOM) for 30 years. She has worked in different areas such as resettlement programmes, emergency operations, counter trafficking and migration policy and programme in these years. She was actively engaged in the migration reform process in Turkey that was initiated between 2009-2013 by the Turkish government. She was coordinating IOM Turkey’s Migration Management Programme, developing and managing projects and was responsible for government liaison in Turkey before she joined the IOM Azerbaijan Team. She also engaged in training activities such as developing, coordinating training modules and materials and delivered training in different aspects of migration management. She took her duties up in IOM Azerbaijan on 13 June 2016 as the Project Coordinator/Head of the Immigration and Border Management Unit (IBM) at supporting the Government of Azerbaijan to develop- improved policy, legislation, operational structures, to respond effectively to diverse migration and border challenges. She also acted as an Officer in Charge for 3 months in Baku. She is now working at the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality as a migration policy coordinator since July 2021.

Elif Fındıkoğlu

Elif Fındıkoğlu graduated from Istanbul Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of City and Regional Planning in 2007. After undergraduate graduation, she completed her master's degree in Beykent University (MIS) Management Information Systems. She studied planning at the University of Rome La Sapienza for a year. From 2012 to 2015, she worked in Urban Risk Management and planning studies at DOKAYO companies and she completed design studies of the ADR Real Estate Information Bank software, the organization of the database, and the presentation of the market. She started to work as the secretary of the Urban Crimes Monitoring Board, which consists of council members under the CHP Provincial Presidency in 2015. She followed the plans of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Council and the Ministry and regularly reported to the board. As a result of the decisions taken by the board, the appeal and litigation processes followed it. She continues to work as a plan and project coordinator at Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Istanbul Planning Agency.

Verena Frick

Verena Frick is a postdoctoral lecturer for Political Theory and History of Ideas at the University of Göttingen. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Erfurt in 2017 with a dissertation on contemporary German constitutional theory and state theory. Since 2013, Verena has been serving as co-speaker of the German Political Science Association’s Standing Group on “Politics and Law”, and, since 2018, as a member of the editorial team of theorieblog.de. Currently, she is working on her second book on the democratic theory of the city. Therein she defends a spatialized account of democracy and a practice-based political ontology of the city. Among her most recent publications are: 2022, Staat, Stadt und die Grenzen politischer Mitgliedschaft, in: Jahrbuch des öffentlichen Rechts 70, 655-668. 2021, Braucht die Demokratie mehr städtische Autonomie? Zur politischen Philosophie der demokratischen Stadt, in: Zeitschrift für Praktische Philosophie 8:1, 223-252; 2019: The justicization of politics. Constitutionalism and democracy in Germany after 1949, in Redescriptions 22:1, 18-34.

Ulf Gerlach

Ulf Gerlach has been responsible for the project management of the urban development project "Stadt behutsam weiterbauen im Blankenburger Süden" at the Senate Department for Urban Development, Building and Housing Berlin since August 01, 2016. After studying electronics engineering in Sofia, sociology at the Free University of Berlin and urban and regional planning at the Technical University of Berlin, he qualified for such a management position in the public sector during an urban planning traineeship. Further professional stations in the run-up were furthermore the cooperation in private planning offices and a redevelopment and development agency, the responsibility of the legal control of urban land use plans at the district administration Barnim, the work as head of the urban planning office Eberswalde as well as the activity as scientific assistant at the BTU Cottbus and the University Kassel including two research projects.

Ferhan Gezici

Ferhan Gezici is Professor at the Urban and Regional Planning Department, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey. She studied at the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as post- doc visiting scholar in 2001-2002. She also studied at ECONRES Madrid Autonoma University and Regio-Lab- Oviedo University in Spain in 2016. Her research interests are regional development and inequalities, regional policies, economic geography, innovation, spatial data analysis, and tourism studies. She has conducted and been involved in several research projects on urban-regional studies.

Pelin Pınar Giritlioglu

Pelin Pınar Giritlioglu received her Ph.D. degree at Istanbul Technical University Faculty of Architecture, City and Regional Planning Department. Since 1992, she has been working at Istanbul University, Faculty of Political Sciences, Department of Political Science and Public Administration. Besides her academic tasks at Istanbul University, she served as the vice president and president of the board of directors at the TMMOB Chamber of City Planners Istanbul Branch between 1998 and 2009. In 2018, she was re-elected as a member of the Board of Directors of the Istanbul Branch and the Board of Directors of the head office of the Chamber of City Planners and is currently the President of the Istanbul Branch. She is carrying on her theoretical and practical studies on "urban regeneration", "urban renewal", "urban law and policy" and "urban crime".  

Andrej Holm

Andrej Holm (born 1970) successfully completed his Diplom degree in social sciences at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in 1997. He was awarded his doctorate at the same institution in 2005, having worked on the topic "Restructuring Space and Societal Power in an Urban Renewal Area." From 1998 to 2001 he worked as a research assistant on the German Research Foundation project "Urban Renewal in East Berlin." From 2001 to 2003 he received a doctoral scholarship from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. From 2003 to 2005 he was employed as an independent social scientist and took on teaching positions at a variety of institutions. In the years 2005/6, as a research assistant, he coordinated the URBACT research project "The European Urban Experience." In 2008/09 Andrej worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Human Geography of the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main and coordinated the research program "New Orders of the Urban in the Age of Neoliberalism." From 2009 to 2011 he took a temporary position in the Urban Research Department at Oldenburg University due to the temporary leave of absence of Dr. Norbert Gestring. Andrej returned to the Department of Urban and Regional Sociology of Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in April 2011.

Oktay Kargül

Oktay Kargül graduated from Istanbul Technical University Urban and Regional Planning and has an Urban Design Master's degree. Kargül worked as an urban planner in private planning offices and carried out studies on spatial plans. He worked as a project assistant at Koç University, coordinator of the Küçükyalı Archeopark Site Management Plan, Turkey's first urban archaeological site, and during his duties as Coordinator City Planner in Beylikdüzü Municipality, he took part in the project coordination in works related with urban design and equipment areas such as national - international competitions. Kargül has been working as the founding general secretary of the Istanbul Planning Agency of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality since 2020.

Martin Kasztantowicz

Martin Kasztantowicz - Founder of the "Forum Blankenburger Süden", is a member of the Blankenburg Round Table and the Blankenburger Süden Project Advisory Board, and former spokesperson for the mobility working group of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Berlin.

Joanna Kusiak

Joanna Kusiak is a Research Fellow in Urban Studies at King's College, Cambridge. Her work focuses on land, property, and the role that legal technicalities play in shaping our cities.

Michael Künzel

Michael KünzelSenate Department for Urban Development, Building and Housing, Head of the Department of Land Use Planning and Urban Planning Concepts

Funda Oral

Funda Oral works in the design, implementation, and facilitation of projects for participatory process, empowerment, and self-organization. In relation to her education in Business Administration and after several years of professional experience in finance, import-export, and management fields, Oral was interested in efficient teamwork, self-organization, and participation.

In addition, she has also been a city activist for the protection of cultural heritage and the environment in Istanbul and received the Roma Integration Award from the European Commission for the music school she has coordinated in Sulukule.

Felix Marlow

Felix Marlow is an urban anthropologist. He studied Architecture and Urbanism at HCU Hamburg and European Ethnology at HU Berlin. He is interested in how practices of care and solidarity can be supported via urbanist interventions. He worked as an ambassador at WERKSTATT Haus der Statistik, translating between urban publics and an experimental urban development process. Recently, he shifted his mode of involvement in this project – now being a member of the Urban Development via Public Civic Partnerships research team at HU Berlin. Apart from that, Felix likes people, the sea, and not being woken up.

Benjamin Raabe

Benjamin Raabe has specialized in several areas of law: tenancy law, residential property law, traffic law, criminal law and youth welfare law. Since 1991 he has been advising tenants on tenancy law for the Berlin Tenants' Association. Since he was admitted to the bar, has been active in both commercial and residential tenancy law. In 2006, he was qualified as a specialist lawyer for tenancy and residential property law. He is active in rental policy and is on the board of the Netzwerk Mieten und Wohnen. He is also a member of the working group on tenancy law in the Republican Lawyers' Association.

Miray Özkan

Miray Özkan was born in 1982 in Bursa and completed her education at the university in Bursa. She got her Bachelor’s degree from the Department of City and Regional Planning at the Middle East Technical University, and her master's degree from the Department of Urban Design at the same university. She received his Ph.D. from Istanbul Technical University, Department of City and Regional Planning. Between 2005 and 2008, he took part in the studies of the Istanbul Environmental Plan at the Istanbul Metropolitan Planning and Urban Design Center. Between 2008 and 2020, she worked as an urban planning specialist and project coordinator at the Kartal Urban Development Association within the scope of the Kartal Urban Transformation Project. In the same period, she took part in the vision and strategy plan studies and conducted workshops for cities such as Denizli and Afyon and various districts of Istanbul with a private company. She is working as the Participation Coordinator at the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Planning Directorate since March 2020. She has been a lecturer at the İstinye University Department of Architecture since 2020.

Cihan Sinanoğlu

Cihan Sinanoğlu is a social scientist. He has been leading the National Discrimination- and Racism Monitor (NaDiRa) at DeZIM-Institut since October 2020. From 2017 to 2020 he led the Accompanying Committee of the Federal Conference of Organizations of Migrants, which published the Anti-Racism Agenda 2025 in September 2020, which includes concrete recommendations for the fight against right-wing extremism and racism. Dr. Cihan Sinanoğlu received his doctorate at the Max-Planck-Institut for Research into multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies in Göttingen. He has worked at the City University of New York and at Eberhard-Karls-Universität in Tübingen. His research Fields: Racism, Ethnic Boundary-Making, Cultural Formations, Political Representation

Erik Swyngedouw

Erik Swyngedouw is Professor of Geography at The University of Manchester, UK, where he is also a member of the Manchester Urban Institute. He holds degrees in environmental engineering, urban and regional planning, and geography. He was previously Professor of Geography at Oxford University and held the Vincent Wright Visiting Professorship at Science Po, Paris, 2014. He also holds Honorary Doctorates from Roskilde University (Denmark) and the University of Malmö (Sweden). His research focuses on political ecology, critical theory, environmental politics, democratization, urbanization, urban governance. politicization, and socio-ecological movements.

He is the author of, among others, Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-Obscene (edited with Dr. H. Ernstson, Routledge), Promises of the Political: Insurgent Cities in a Post-Democratic Environment (MIT Press), Liquid Power: Contested Hydro-Modernities in 20th Century Spain (MIT Press) and Social Power and the Urbanization of Nature (Oxford University Press). A co-authored book on Social Innovation and Social Political Transformation was published in July 2022 with E. Elgar. In addition, he published over 200 research papers in leading international journals.

Ertuğ Tombuş

Ertuğ Tombuş is the deputy director of the Center for Comparative Research on Democracy and a Research Associate at the Department of Social Sciences, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Between 2017-2020, he was the academic coordinator of the Blickwechsel: Contemporary Turkey Studies Program at HU-Berlin. Before joining HU-Berlin, he taught at Columbia University, The New School for Liberal Arts, Eugene Lang College, Western Connecticut State University, and the State University of New York. He is the managing editor of Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory since 2009. He was a visiting research fellow at Northwestern University and Yale University. He holds a Ph.D. M.Sc. and B.Sc. in political science and M.Phil. in Sociology. His primary teaching and research areas are theories of democracy, politics and law, theories of constitution-making, comparative constitutionalism, populism, secularism and its critics, sociology of law, political sociology, contemporary social theory and Turkish politics.

Ana-Maria Trăsnea

Ana-Maria Trăsnea, has a very international background. She moved to Berlin from Romania at the age of 13. She was only 27 years old when she was appointed as the State of Berlin Delegate to the Federation and Permanent Secretary for Active Citizenship, Democracy Support and International Relations in 2021. She was a member of the borough assembly of Berlin-Treptow-Köpenick (2016 – 2021), where she also held the position of deputy chair (2019 – 2021) and chair of the SPD parliamentary group (2021). During the 2021 federal elections, she ran as a candidate (for direct election) for the constituency of Berlin-Treptow-Köpenick. In 2020, she was awarded the Helene Weber Prize. Ana-Maria Trăsnea studied Cultural and European Studies at the Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), and spent one semester at the University of Salamanca (Spain). Alongside her studies, she was involved in various civic engagement programs and projects, such as heading workshops on political education for young people at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Berlin (2016 – 2019), working as a mentor in the Helene Weber Kolleg’s program “Diversity in politics: What’s my background? I want to be in the foreground!” at the European Academy for Women (2021), and participating in the “United Games of Nations” (2010 – 2013). During her time at school, she joined the SPD and worked on various projects, for instance, “schools without racism” and “schools with courage,” engaged with different networks, and organized participation projects.

Banu Çicek Tülü

Banu Çiçek Tülü (Adana/Turkey, 1984) is an artist, producer and DJ with a background in urban design from South-East Turkey based in Berlin. She develops her ideas and research by using sound as a primary medium and sonic methodologies. Her practice-based artistic approach involves participation, social design, ecology, feminist and queer theory which uses artistic, cultural and political imagination as tools for social change. The process of the artistic production is crucial and it is mostly presented as multi-channel video and sound installations, sculptural elements and various objects. In October 2022, her debut album TransSoundScapes was released from Berlin based label Intergalactic Research Institute for Sound, in which she worked with trans women to bring awareness to trans people's problems. Banu Çiçek Tülü recently completed her PhD at the Fine Arts University Hamburg. Between 2018-2021, she was a lecturer at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Started when she was a BA student (2003-2009) in Istanbul, she continues her political engagement also in Germany while working with different activist groups. She is a fellow in the Namibia Program at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart/Germany working with colonial sound archives.

Gülay Türkmen

Gülay Türkmen is a political sociologist at WZB Berlin Social Science Center. Her work examines how macro-scale historical, cultural and political developments inform questions of belonging and identity-formation in multicultural societies. Her research interests stand at the intersection of politics and religion, as they relate to questions of identity, migration, diversity, pluralism, and citizenship. She is the author of Under the Banner of Islam? Turks, Kurds and the Limits of Religious Unity (Oxford University Press, 2021). She has published in several academic outlets including the Annual Review of Sociology, Qualitative Sociology, Sociological Quarterly, Nations and Nationalism, and New Diversities.

Marta Wojciechowska

Marta Wojciechowska is a Lecturer in Politics at the Department of Political Economy, King’s College London. She held previous appointments at the London School of Economics, and University College London, and held visiting fellowships at the Australian National University and the University of Canberra. Her research focuses on democratic theory (deliberative and participatory approaches), problems of inequality, and urban governance. Marta is currently writing a book on democracy and megacities.

Urszula Ewa Woźniak

Urszula Ewa Woźniak holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Until June 2022 she worked as a research associate at the Chair of Comparative Political Sciences and Political Systems of Eastern Europe, Department of Social Sciences at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her research interests include political sociology and political anthropology, migration and transnationalism, urban studies and Turkish studies. Based on ethnographic research on two Istanbul neighbourhoods, her Ph.D. examined the relevance of the neighbourhood (mahalle) as a contested system of order in both the realm of everyday life and political discourse. Next to her academic publishing work, in recent years Urszula has been actively engaged in questions of equal opportunity policies and diversity mainstreaming at the university. She previously also worked as a freelance cultural practitioner, collaborating, among others, with Depo Istanbul, Maxim Gorki Theater, Polnisches Institut Berlin and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. 

Bora Yerliyurt

Bora Yerliyurt is an Associate Professor at Yıldız Technical University (Istanbul), Faculty of Architecture, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, where he has been working as a full-time academic since 2001. His research interests have a variety of topics including urban planning and design, urban regeneration, industrial archeology/heritage, and integrated coastal zone management. He published in international scientific journals indexed in Scopus, Design and Applied Arts - DAAI, Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals – AIAP. Besides his book, he contributed several books both as an author and editor. He also attended several scientific international and national conferences. He has participated in research projects supported by TÜBİTAK, the Turkish National Ministry of Development, İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and Yıldız Technical University Research Center as a research member of the project team.