Speculated Location of the Garden of Eden, Image in circle: Part of the Garden of Eden as depicted in the first or left panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ Triptych. ©BOARD

This scientific study examines the urban way of living of people that start living in a second city in a second nation-state, without saying goodbye to their first city. This way of life is described in the study as “Binational Urbanism”. Binational urbanism is therefore a special form of transnationalism, a phenomenon of sociology that results from social interactions across boundaries of nation-states. Ideally, a binational urbanist continuously moves back and forth between two cities as an extreme commuter, and lives in constant transit between two homes.

In order to investigate what binational urban life looks like in detail, people of Turkish origin living in Germany, who commute regularly between cities in Germany and Turkey, are interviewed. Accordingly, the central question of the study tries to establish whether a theory of binational urbanism can be developed from the way of life of these people of Turkish origin. To get answers to this question problem-centered semi-structured interviews are conducted as a method of qualitative research, which are subsequently processed using qualitative content analysis.

During the investigation it turns out that the binational urban way of living is mainly characterized by contradictions that are nevertheless used positively in many ways by these binational urbanists. These contradictions are made visible in ten chapters, in which two hundred antonyms are listed as reasons that motivate the binational urbanists to commute between a German city and one Turkish city. The statements on this total number of one hundred seemingly contradictory opposites are empirically verified with the help of quotations from the semi-structured interviews.

The study leads to ten theory-building statements that describe and explain binational urbanism. Binational urbanism is, for example, a formless, oscillating and optional urban way of life. In order to provide a theoretical basis for the statements, different theories of urban and political sociology, anthropology, social theory and social psychology are referred to. The result is a way of looking at cities that is largely independent of physical form and density, but dominated by the fate of individuals in social, political and religious, economic, climatic, and traditional aspects.

Title: Binational Urbanism – On the Road to Paradise
Project: Research Study
Date: 2005 – 2015
Type: Self-initiated study
Location: Road between Germany and Turkey
Site: Cities in Germany and Turkey
Programme: Study on transnationalism
Status: Published
Client: Self-initiated
Publications: Binational Urbanism – On the Road to Paradise, August 2015
Team: Bernd Upmeyer