Image for Picturing the square, the street, and the denizens of Istanbul: Ottoman court narratives and practices of urban space

Picturing the square, the street, and the denizens of Istanbul: Ottoman court narratives and practices of urban space

Eurasian Empires Seminar Series Lecture by Çiğdem Kafescioğlu, Department of History at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul

Monday, April 07, 2014
12:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

Exploring intersections of spaces, practices, and representations of urbanity and the city in late sixteenth-century Istanbul, the paper traces the emergence of a set of new themes centered on the street and on the main public square of the Ottoman capital in illustrated court histories of the period (and following shortly, in a set of other genres). It considers visual and textual images of the city that located actors –elite and commoner- in public spaces in view of the changing urban life of an expanding metropolis and its frequently conflicted political environment. It proposes an expanded interpretative framework for these products of the court that incorporates a perspective on the urban, and argues for a changing regime of visuality that shaped the city center and its images at the turn of the seventeenth century.

In attempting to locate and understand images of city and urbanity at this particular juncture, the paper simultaneously pursues questions of connectivity within a larger Eurasian sphere of cultural production and circulation. The city views, images of street, square, and denizens that articulate a changing vision of urbanity were produced through a broad web of connections within and beyond the Ottoman world, as their makers entered into dialogues with a diverse range of representational practices: they evince responses to and dialogues with Persianate book painting of the later sixteenth century; they reinterpret European city views circulating in the Ottoman domains in manuscript and print; they evoke the poetic genre of the shehrengiz, which in turn evoked related genres of city poetry in contemporary Persian and Mughal realms.

Çiğdem Kafescioğlu is associate professor at the Department of History at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. She works on the urban, architectural, and visual culture of the early modern Ottoman world, with current research interests in representations of city and urbanity in arts and letters in connection to urban and spatial practices; and in articulations of and discourses on Ottoman identity within the spheres of architecture and visual arts. She is the author of Constantinopolis/Istanbul: Cultural Encounter, Imperial Vision, and the Construction of the Ottoman Capital (Penn State University Press, 2010), and has contributed chapters and articles to a number of books and journals. Kafescioğlu is currently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2013-14).

The 2013-2014 seminar series, Eurasian Empires & Central Asian Peoples: The Backlands in World History, is co-sponsored by the UCLA Program on Central Asia and the Center for Near Eastern Studies. Click here for more information about the series

[Image: The Hippodrome of Istanbul in Seyyid Lokman’s Hünername (1587-88), Topkapı Palace Museum Library, H 1524, vol. 2, fol. 250r]

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Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, Asia Pacific Center, Program on Central Asia

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