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Neighborhood in Ottoman Istanbul, A

Fruit Vendors and Civil Servants in the Kasap Ilyas Mahalle

Cem Behar

Publication Year: 2003

Combining the vivid and colorful detail of a micro-history with a wider historical perspective, this groundbreaking study looks at the urban and social history of a small neighborhood community (a mahalle) of Ottoman Istanbul, the Kasap Iùlyas. Drawing on exceptionally rich historical documentation starting in the early sixteenth century, Cem Behar focuses on how the Kasap Iùlyas mahalle came to mirror some of the overarching issues of the capital city of the Ottoman Empire. Also considered are other issues central to the historiography of cities, such as rural migration and urban integration of migrants, including avenues for professional integration and the solidarity networks migrants formed, and the role of historical guilds and non-guild labor, the ancestor of the “informal” or “marginal” sector found today in less developed countries.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in the Social and Economic History of the Middle East (discontinued)


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

As frequently happens, this research came about by chance. It was in 1988, while working on marriage, family, and fertility in late Ottoman Istanbul, that I first came across the name of the Kasap Ilyas neighborhood. This encounter materialized in the form of notebooks and loose folios...

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Introduction. The City, The Semt and the Mahalle

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pp. 1-26

The image of Istanbul as the city, or as “a world in itself” was often used to depict the size, the bustle, and the diversity of the Ottoman capital.1 As the center of economic and political power of an empire stretching over three continents, Istanbul drew people from all Ottoman lands and even from beyond...

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1. The Contours of a Local Identity

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pp. 27-64

It was a chilly November day of the year 1494 (Safer 900 a.h.). Ilyas slowly climbed the steep hill toward the large mosque of the Grand Vizier Davudpaoea. Its lofty dome and tall minaret overlooked the whole district, the large semt to which it had come to give its name. Obviously, the Davudpaoea mosque was much larger and loftier...

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2. Power and LocalAdministration in Kasap llyas: Tanzimat And After

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pp. 65-94

In the Muslim mahalles of pre-nineteenth-century Istanbul, the central figure of the neighborhood community was the religious leader of the local mosque, the imam. He was indeed an influential man and, at times, a local potentate of sorts. Certainly not because of the meager powers given him within the administrative setup of towns in the central...

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3. Migration and Urban Integration: The Arapkir Connection

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pp. 95-130

As is the case with all economic and political capital-cities, Istanbul has always been a city which, over the centuries, attracted a large number of newcomers and migrants of various types and origins. Notwithstanding the nostalgic protests of the natives or the governmental efforts to repel the newcomers, the Ottoman city accepted and, eventually integrated them. Obviously, social and political upward mobility...

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4. “End of Empire”: Portrait of a Neighborhood Communityin the Late Nineteenth Century

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pp. 131-183

Thank God, the terrible earthquake was over. Facing the tombstone that stood in the small cemetery behind the Kasap ƒlyas mosque, Osman efendi, the muhtar, addressed a prayer (fâtiha) to the soul of Kasap Ilyas, founder of the mosque and of his neighborhood. As every morning...

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pp. 173-182

In 1893, while Osman Efendi was still muhtar of Kasap Ilyas, an epidemic of cholera struck Istanbul. Whether the epidemic took a particularly heavy toll in Kasap Ilyas is not known, but its indirect and long-term effects on our neighborhood as a whole were certainly devastating. The year the epidemic broke...


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pp. 183-184


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pp. 185-208


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pp. 209-216


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pp. 217-224

E-ISBN-13: 9780791487037
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791456811
Print-ISBN-10: 0791456811

Page Count: 225
Illustrations: 8 b/w photographs, 3 maps, 9 tables
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: SUNY series in the Social and Economic History of the Middle East (discontinued)
Series Editor Byline: Donald Quataert See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 55896398
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Neighborhood in Ottoman Istanbul, A

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Istanbul (Turkey) -- Economic conditions.
  • Kasap İlyas Mahalle (Istanbul, Turkey).
  • Istanbul (Turkey) -- Social life and customs.
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