- Between the Real and the Imaginary: Late Ottoman Istanbul as a Crime Scene
- Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 4, Number 1, May 2017
- pp. 95-116
- View Citation
- Additional Information
This article explores the production and circulation of murder ballads and crime reports, and the potential feelings that these mass-produced narratives generated among the Ottoman reading public at the end of the nineteenth century. It argues that, on the one hand, these crime narratives bolstered the ominous and unsettling image of Istanbul and informed residents of the city that the perpetrators of the crime had either been executed, sentenced to death, or captured and facing trial. Thus, this news instilled the idea that the administrative system was working well and a safe city environment was ensured. On the other hand, the proliferation of these crime narratives, whether based in reality or fantasy, especially after the 1880s, cultivated a “growing appetite for crime stories” and created a mass audience composed of new social actors and new urban spectators who positioned themselves in relation to the protagonists of these narratives. This world of perception enthusiastically welcomed crime stories as they fed the popular imagination in exciting new ways, allowing individuals to experience novel urban spectacles that were neither possible nor imaginable previously.