Preservation under the Crescent and Star: Using new sources for examining the historic development of the Balat District in Istanbul and its meanings for historic preservation

2004 2004

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Abstract (summary)

The purpose of this dissertation is to identify various sources hitherto neglected by the field of historic preservation in Turkey, and to seek possible ways in which they can be incorporation into this field. As demonstrated by the case study chosen for this dissertation—the Balat District in Istanbul—the use of these sources fosters a richness of perception which today is lacking in historic preservation in Turkey.

The dissertation begins with the hypothesis that historic preservation in Turkey was used to legitimize the constructed reality of the new Turkish Republic. Since the Republic represented everything the Ottoman Empire was not, it had to be purged of its Ottoman inheritance, including the Empire's institutions and its diverse, non-Muslim population. Istanbul's urban fabric, however, bore unmistakable marks of both. While the eradication of these marks was never a declared policy, the net effect of the Republic's actions was essentially to have that result. A heightened awareness of the neglected sources mentioned above may help obviate the ways in which history has been rewritten, and may also help us develop preservation policies which provide a richer, more complex and multi-ethnic reading of Balat's—and ultimately Istanbul's—past.

In the case of Balat, in contrast to the relatively few sources used by preservation authorities (mainly old photographs and historic maps) stand a vast array of sources that typically go unnoticed. Among these are Byzantine records, Ottoman governmental records, Islamic court records, rabbinical records, church records, etc. In practice, a neighborhood preservation project would ideally use most of these sources. To make the current study manageable, however, I will focus specifically on Islamic court records.

During my fieldwork in Istanbul, I scanned roughly 4,300 court records (covering the period from 1800 to 1839) to identify cases pertinent to the built environment. The 1198 cases that I identified provide a wealth of information related to building types, ownership patterns, commercial activity, demographics, mobility, etc.—information which helps us reconstruct the lifestyle of Balat's residents, and ultimately aids in the rendering of a multi-faceted narrative of the District's urban history.

Indexing (details)

Urban planning;
Area planning & development
0729: Architecture
0999: Urban planning
0999: Area planning & development
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Balat District; Historic preservation; Istanbul; Turkey
Preservation under the Crescent and Star: Using new sources for examining the historic development of the Balat District in Istanbul and its meanings for historic preservation
Uluengin, Mehmet Bengu
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 65/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780496104581, 0496104586
Chusid, Jeffrey M.
The University of Texas at Austin
University location
United States -- Texas
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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