Over the last decade or so, the national and local governments together with corporate groups have sought to reposition Istanbul as a globalising metropolis of fi nance capital, services, tourism, entertainment and consumption. However, its accompanying neoliberal, top-down ‘urban transformation’ (Kentsel Dönüşüm or KD)1 policies have excluded a local ‘ethnic’ population-the Roma of Sulukule-from the process. This community and neighbourhood could otherwise have capitalised on its human and social capital to re-invent its long-standing history of informal entrepreneurial dynamism, an opportunity that is now being squandered.