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By Cem Behar

Combining the bright and colourful element of a micro-history with a much wider historic point of view, this groundbreaking examine seems to be on the city and social heritage of a small local group (a mahalle) of Ottoman Istanbul, the Kasap Iùlyas. Drawing on quite wealthy historic documentation beginning within the early 16th century, Cem Behar specializes in how the Kasap Iùlyas mahalle got here to reflect a few of the overarching problems with the capital urban of the Ottoman Empire. additionally thought of are different concerns crucial to the historiography of towns, corresponding to rural migration and concrete integration of migrants, together with avenues for pro integration and the unity networks migrants shaped, and the function of historic guilds and non-guild hard work, the ancestor of the "informal" or "marginal" area came upon at the present time in much less built nations.

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Extra info for A Neighborhood in Ottoman Istanbul: Fruit Vendors and Civil Servants in the Kasap Ilyas Mahalle

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In 1885, the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle had 925 registered Muslim inhabitants and, in 1907, a total of 1,160 inhabitants, 1,039 of which were Muslim. Other Written Sources Quantitative data and sources for the pre-nineteenth-century Istanbul population are difficult to come by. The available estimates, most of them by European travelers and Orientalists, are approximations with a usually low degree of reliability. Besides, Istanbul was never taxed in the same manner as the provinces, never had a Tapu Tahrir Defteri, and was never, even immediately after the Ottoman conquest, subjected to a census.

Besides, Kasap ƒlyas, through the prestige of its local religious leaders, seems to have acquired a particular urban aura. Indeed, the trusteeship of a number of houses situated in Arap Taceddin and in the adjacent “new” mahalle had also been given to the imam of the Kasap ƒlyas mosque. However, not even a single item of property situated in our neighborhood had been given in trust to a local religious foundation situated elsewhere in the city in the first half of the sixteenth century. Points of Reference In the last quarter of the fifteenth century three buildings played a definitional role in the formation of our neighborhood and of its local identity: (1) the Davud Paœa complex (külliye) which gave its name to the whole area and was situated up the hill above Kasap ƒlyas.

Fires, large and small, continued to ravage the city. The havoc wrought in the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle by the two large fires that cut through Istanbul in 1660 and again in 1782 is proof that, as far as housing is concerned, wood continued to be the main building material throughout the centuries, at least in our neighborhood. Only ten years after the fire that ravaged half of Istanbul in 1782, G. A. Olivier, a representative of the French government who traveled through the Ottoman Empire is surprised by the difference in the quality of the public and private buildings in Istanbul.

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