Skip to main content

The Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) revisited: The evolution of GAP over forty years

  • Arda Bilgen (a1)

The Southeastern Anatolia Project (Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi, GAP) is arguably the largest regional development project ever witnessed in Turkey. Begun in the 1970s, GAP initially aimed primarily at the construction of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power plants on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and of extensive irrigation networks to produce hydroelectric energy and water 1.8 million hectares of land in southeastern Turkey. Later, the scope of GAP broadened significantly as it became a more ambitious and comprehensive scheme of modernization and transformation. Following this expansion, the multidimensionality of GAP and its multifaceted implications became clearer at both the national and international level. The project grew more visible and influential not only in political and public discourses, but also in the GAP region itself. Despite these developments, however, the question of how the project’s characteristics, vocabulary, rationales, and mechanisms have changed since its inception remains underdiscussed. This article asks what GAP was in the past and what it has more recently become. It examines the gradual transformation of GAP over forty years by specifically taking into account the continuities and ruptures in development discourse, theory, and practice since the 1950s. In this way, the article aims to provide a new perspective regarding the stages through which the project has passed to reach its current form.

Hide All

Author’s Note: I would like to thank Conrad Schetter and Katja Mielke for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.

Hide All
Akşit, Bahattin, Mutlu, Kayhan, Nalbantoğlu, H. Ünal, Akçay, Adnan and Şen, Mustafa. “Population Movements of an Empirical Research in 1993.” New Perspectives on Turkey 14 (1996): 5374.
Altınbilek, Doğan and Tortajada, Cecilia. “The Atatürk Dam in the Context of the Southeastern Anatolia (GAP) Project.” In Impacts of Large Dams: A Global Assessment, Water Resources Development and Management. Edited by Cecilia Tortajada, Doğan Altınbilek, and Asit K. Biswas. Berlin: Springer, 2012. 171199.
Andrews, Nathan and Bawa, Sylvia. “A Post-development Hoax? (Re)-examining the Past, Present and Future of Development Studies.” Third World Quarterly 35 (2014): 922935.
Bağış, Ali İhsan. GAP: Southeastern Anatolia Project: The Cradle of Civilization Regenerated. İstanbul: İnterbank, 1989.
Baran, Paul. The Political Economy of Growth. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1957.
Beleli, Özsel. “Regional Policy and EU Accession: Learning from the GAP Experience.” Turkish Policy Quarterly 4 (2005): 8796.
Bennett, Cary. “Supporting the Posts in Development Discourse: Under-development, Over-development, Post-development.” Sociology Compass 6 (2012): 974986.
Bilgen, Arda. “A Project of Destruction, Peace, or Techno-Science? Untangling the Relationship Between the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) and the Kurdish Question in Turkey.” Middle Eastern Studies 54, no. 1 (2018): 94113.
Buch-Hansen, Mogens and Lauridsen, Laurids S.. “The Past, Present and Future of Development Studies.” Forum for Development Studies 39 (2012): 293300.
Bull, Benedicte and Bøås, Morten. “Between Ruptures and Continuity: Modernisation, Dependency and the Evolution of Development Theory.” Forum for Development Studies 39 (2012): 319336.
Chant, Sylvia and McIlwaine, Cathy. Geographies of Development in the 21st Century: An Introduction to the Global South. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2009.
Devlet Planlama Teşkilatı (DPT). The Southeastern Anatolia Project Master Plan Study: Final Master Plan Report. Vol. 2. Tokyo: Nippon Koei Co. and Ankara: Yüksel Proje, 1989.
Devlet Su İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü (DSİ). GAP: Ülkemizin En Büyük Projesi Olan GAP’ın Dünü, Bugünü ve Yarını. Ankara: Devlet Su İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü, 2012.
Eade, Deborah. “Preface.” In Deconstructing Development Discourse: Buzzwords and Fuzzwords. Edited by Andrea Cornwall, and Deborah Eade. Rugby: Practical Action and Oxfam, 2010: viix.
Ertürk, Yakın. “Sosyolojik Bakış Açısıyla GAP.” GAP Dergisi 1, no. 3 (1993): 1721.
Escobar, Arturo. Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.
Frank, Andre Gunder. “The Development of Underdevelopment.” Monthly Review 18 (1966): 1731.
GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi (GAP-BKİ). GAP Bölgesi Hareket Planı (1993–1997). Ankara: GAP-BKİ, 1993.
GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi (GAP-BKİ). GAP: Az Gelişmiş Bölgelerin Potansiyel Araştırma Toplantısı. Ankara: GAP-BKİ, 1996.
GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi (GAP-BKİ). Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi Bölge Kalkınma Planı: Ana Rapor. Vol. 2. Ankara: GAP-BKİ, 2002.
GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi (GAP-BKİ). GAP Eylem Planı (2008–2012). Ankara: GAP-BKİ, 2008.
GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi (GAP-BKİ). GAP Eylem Planı (2014–2018). Ankara: GAP-BKİ, 2014.
GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi (GAP-BKİ). Klasik GAP Biterken. Ankara: GAP-BKİ, 2014.
GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi (GAP-BKİ). Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi: Son Durum. Ankara: GAP-BKİ, 2016.
GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi (GAP-BKİ). Sosyo-Ekonomik Göstergeler: GAP-Türkiye. Ankara: GAP-BKİ, 2016.
GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi (GAP-BKİ). Performans Programı 2017 . Ankara: GAP-BKİ, 2017.
GAP Girişimci Destekleme Merkezleri (GAP-GİDEM). Competitiveness Agenda for the GAP Region: GAP Entrepreneur Support Centers Project. UNDP, 2007.
GAP Regional Development Administration (GAP-RDA). GAP Regional Transportation and Infrastructure Development Study Final Report: Executive Summary. Ankara: GAP-RDA, 1993.
GAP Regional Development Administration (GAP-RDA). Southeastern Anatolia Project Social Action Plan. Ankara: GAP-RDA, 1999.
Gökçe, Birsen, Kasapoğlu, Aytül, Kaya, Nilay Çabuk and Güler, Zuhal. Bölgesel Kalkınmanın Can Suyu GAP: Karşılaştırmalı Sosyal ve Ekonomik Yapı Araştırması. Ankara: GAP-BKİ and Sosyoloji Derneği, 2010.
Karasu, Koray. “Kalkınma Ajansları: ‘Modelimi Kaybettim. Hükümsüzdür’ (Ölçek Siyasetinin Yerelliği).” SBF Dergisi 70 (2015): 273316.
Kibaroğlu, Ayşegül, Başkan, Argun and Alp, Sezin. “Neo-liberal Transitions in Hydropower and Irrigation Water Management in Turkey: Main Actors and Opposition Groups.” In Water Policy Entrepreneurs: A Research Companion to Water Transitions Around the Globe. Edited by Dave Huitema, and Sander Meijerink. Cheltenham and Northampton: Edward Elgar, 2009. 287304.
Kibaroğlu, Ayşegül. “GAP: A Grand Design for Sustainable Development.” Economy and Territory 1 (2006): 178180.
Kut, Sema. “GAP Bölgesel Kalkınma ve Sosyal Hizmet.” In Sosyal Hizmet Sempozyumu ’99: Bölgesel Kalkınma Sürecinde Sosyal Hizmet. Edited by GAP-BKİ and Hacettepe Üniversitesi. Ankara: GAP-BKİ and Hacettepe Üniversitesi, 1999. 2731.
Laclau, Ernesto. Emancipation(s). London: Verso, 1996.
Leys, Colin. The Rise and Fall of Development Theory. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996.
Mengi, Ayşegül. “Regions and Regional Planning in EU and Turkey.” GAP Review 9 (2001): 3034.
Millî Güvenlik Kurulu Genel Sekreterliği. Türkiye’de Bölge Planlamasının Evreleri. Ankara: Millî Güvenlik Kurulu, 1993.
Mutlu, Servet. “The Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) of Turkey: Its Context, Objectives, and Prospects.” Orient 37 (1996): 5986.
Öktem, Kerem. “When Dams are Built on Shaky Grounds: Policy Choice and Social Performance of Hydro-Project Based Development in Turkey.” Erdkunde 56 (2002): 310325.
Özer, Ahmet. Modernleşme ve Güneydoğu. Ankara: İmge, 1998.
Pieterse, Jan Nederveen. “After Post-development.” Third World Quarterly 21 (2000): 175191.
Pottier, Johan. “The Role of Ethnography in Project Appraisal.” In Practising Development: Social Science Perspectives. Edited by Johan Pottier. London and New York: Routledge, 2003. 1334.
Sachs, Wolfgang. “Introduction.” In The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power. Edited by Wolfgang Sachs. London and New York: Zed, 2010. xvxx.
Turgut, Hulusi. GAP ve Demirel. İstanbul: ABC, 2000.
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM). Tutanak Dergisi. Term 4, Meeting 2, Sitting 38. February 12, 1975.
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM). Tutanak Dergisi. Term 4, Meeting 2, Sitting 63. April 9, 1975.
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM). Tutanak Dergisi. Term 17, Year 2, Sitting 47. December 19, 1984.
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM). Tutanak Dergisi. Term 18, Year 1, Sitting 14. January 27, 1988.
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM). Tutanak Dergisi. Term 18, Year 1, Sitting 34. March 15, 1988.
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM). Tutanak Dergisi. Term 18, Year 3, Sitting 103. April 17, 1990.
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM). Tutanak Dergisi. Term 19, Year 1, Sitting 52. March 16, 1992.
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM). Tutanak Dergisi. Term 22, Year 3, Sitting 14. November 4, 2004.
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM). Tutanak Dergisi. Term 24, Year 2, Sitting 131. July 3, 2012.
Türkiye İstatistik Kurumu (TÜİK). Gelir ve Yaşam Koşulları Araştırması Bölgesel Sonuçları, 2015. Ankara: TÜİK, 2016.
Türkiye İstatistik Kurumu (TÜİK). Seçilmiş Göstergelerle İstanbul, 2013. Ankara: TÜİK, 2014.
Ünver, İ. H. Olcay. “Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP).” Water Resources Development 13, no. 4 (1997): 453483.
Ünver, İ. H. Olcay and Gupta, Rajiv K.. “A New Perspective on Water Development and Poverty Reduction in Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey.” In Water Development and Poverty Reduction. Edited by İ. H. Olcay Ünver, Rajiv K. Gupta, and Ayşegül Kibaroğlu. New York: Springer, 2003. 231261.
Wallerstein, Immanuel. “After Developmentalism and Globalization, What?Social Forces 83 (2005): 12631278.
Warner, Jeroen. Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011.
Ziai, Aram. “‘Development’: Projects, Power, and a Poststructuralist Perspective.” Alternatives 34 (2009): 183201.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

New Perspectives on Turkey
  • ISSN: 0896-6346
  • EISSN: 1305-3299
  • URL: /core/journals/new-perspectives-on-turkey
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 10 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 357 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 25th May 2018 - 18th June 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.