• Assembling 'Cosmopolitan' Pera: An Infrastructural History of Late Ottoman Istanbul

    Koca Mehmet Kentel (see profile)
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    University of Washington
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    In the nineteenth century, the Pera (Beyoğlu) district of Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, became an internationally recognized center of commerce, finance, culture, art, and recreation, in the context of the empire’s rapid integration into world capitalism. The district’s built environment changed radically, manifested in the newly erected apartment buildings, arcades, gardens, and monumental hotels and embassies. This transformation was dependent on largescale destruction of the previous spatial order of the district, as well as on environmental connections to distant and nearby peripheries of Pera, such as Terkos and Kasımpaşa. This dissertation examines this process by locating infrastructure as an integral part of ‘assembling’ Pera in the late nineteenth century. Pera’s rise to prominence has been studied as an experiment in municipal governance, modernization in urban space, and cosmopolitan sociability. This dissertation shows that it was first and foremost a material process, which remade a complex and extended geography within and beyond Pera’s boundaries in fundamentally unequal ways. The critical study of infrastructures reveals the complex encounters forged in this process between different regions, humans and animals, the past and the present, and the living and the dead.
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