The Golden Age of Capitalism in Northern Mediterranean: Marshall Plan’s labour and postwar workers’ housing programs

© A workers’ housing cooperative project in Zonguldak, Turkey. Anon, İşçiye Sağlanan Faydalar, Ankara: Çalışma Vekaleti Yayınları, 1957.

Sila Karatas

Supervisor: MER Elena Cogato Lanza, Lab-U

Co-supervisor: Prof. Emeritus Luca Ortelli, LCC

Start date: September 2019 Defense date (expected): September 2023


Grant: Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship for PhD, The Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS), 2019-2022


This research concerns the United States-guided transnational discourse and activity on postwar workers’ housing programs and settlements of the Mediterranean countries which participated in the Marshall Plan (France, Italy, Greece, Turkey). Officially operated between 1948 and 1952 as part of the postwar foreign policy of the US yet continued through the activity of multilateral institutions in the following decades of the Cold War, the plan actively engaged in postwar industrial development, labour affairs and workers’ housing, and participating countries encountered similar transformations on their socio-spatial fabric due to the financial and technical assistance programs of the US and related multilateral organizations.

The thesis argues that architecture and urbanism of housing as well as housing production faced a paradigmatic shift in this period by the know-how exchange through transnational expertise on industrial development and labour affairs as well as on housing development, design and construction in the participating countries. In this respect, the thesis argues that this transnational expertise guided local agendas on workers’ housing, and workers’ housing programs of these countries had common schemata in terms of policies and governance, planning and land use strategies, population and ownership patterns, settlement morphologies and architectural typologies as well as roles of policymaker, planner, architect and labour community in self-help housing development.

Within this scope, the research aims to question the role of the Marshall Plan and forms of transnational expertise in the programming of workers’ housing production in relation to postwar development discourse and labour affairs, to understand the role of workers’ housing in building postwar welfare states and guiding informal manners of urban sprawl in response to industrial development and to reveal the socio-spatial norms of workers’ housing programs shifting the interwar practice of urban planning and architecture on workers’ housing.

The methodology is a cross-analysis and cross-comparison between transnational and local discourses and practices concerning workers’ housing. On one hand, discursive analysis focuses on the activity of transnational organisations on industrial development, labour affairs and workers’ housing in relation to the activity of local institutions and actors on workers’ housing programs of these countries. On the other hand, spatial analysis compares case studies of workers’ housing settlements built by the United States as part of the Marshall Plan and by the local labour as part of postwar housing programs in city-regions of France, Italy, Greece and Turkey, which were formed or further developed to industrialize and populate rural areas. The discursive data mainly relies on archival sources whereas spatial data combines archival sources with cross-analytical and cross-comparative schemata.


Key words: Marshall Plan, postwar development, industrial urbanization, workers’ housing, self-help housing