Middle East Studies

Lecture | Christine Philliou | Invisible Cities: Greek Istanbul of the 19th century through the Lens of Ottoman Census Registers

Invisible Cities, Monday April 3 at 5;30pm in Rhode Island Hall Room 108

Monday, April 3, 2023

5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Rhode Island Hall 108

Sponsored by Modern Greek Studies

About the Event

What lay beneath the "multicultural" facade of urban life in 19th-century Istanbul? While the concepts of tolerance and diversity are surely seductive in our historical moment today, when we scratch the surface we find that social realities were far more complex. I will delve into the granular study of neighborhoods in the Ottoman capital city to examine the "internal" and "external" histories of micro-level communities, using Ottoman census registers that documented the Greek Orthodox (Rum) residents. The goal is to think differently about the historical experiences of non-Muslims in an Islamicate society as the age of nationalism was unfolding. The talk will draw materials from the ongoing, collaborative Digital Humanities project, http://istanpolis.org/

Partner Events

About the Speaker
Christine Philliou is a professor of history at the Department of History, University of California, Berkeley specializes in the political, social, and cultural history of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey and Greece as parts of the post-Ottoman world. Her first book, "Biography of an Empire: Governing Ottomans in an Age of Revolution" (University of California Press, 2011; Greek edition Alexandria Press, 2021; Turkish edition İş Bankası Kültür Press, 2022), examined the changes in Ottoman governance leading up to the Tanzimat reforms of the mid-nineteenth century. It did so using the vantage point of Phanariots, an Orthodox Christian elite that was intimately involved in the day-to-day work of governance even though structurally excluded from belonging to the Ottoman state. Her second book, "Turkey: A Past Against History" (University of California Press, 2021; Greek edition Alexandria Press, 2022), focuses on the fraught history of the idea of opposition/dissent, connecting literature, politics, and the construction of official History in the Ottoman Second Constitutional and Republican period of Turkish history. In it, she highlights the political, personal, and intellectual/artistic itinerary of the Ottoman/Turkish writer and perennial dissident Refik Halid Karay (1888-1965). The premise is that, in the absence of a sustained opposition party between 1908 and 1950, there developed a more abstract space of opposition and dissent, half in the imagination and half in political reality, in Ottoman, and then after 1923 Republican Turkish intellectual life. She uses Refik Halid Karay, and the concept of muhalefet in Turkish, to explore the changing nature and contours of that space through the supposed rupture that separated the Ottoman Empire from Modern Turkey.