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Title: Istanbul Incorporated: Minorities and the Market in the Grand Bazaar and Istiklal Street
Authors: Williams, Samuel Joseph
Advisors: Borneman, John
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: Markets
Social Minorities
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Middle Eastern studies
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation provides a sociocultural portrait of two marketplaces in Istanbul: the Grand Bazaar, reputedly the world’s oldest still-operating market, and İstiklâl Street, the nineteenth-century boulevard once known as the Grande Rue de Péra. Sometime cosmopolitan hubs of an imperial capital with a non-Muslim majority, as Istanbul’s population has quadrupled during recent decades, these marketplaces have emerged as spaces where diverse rural-to-urban migrants are attempting to incorporate themselves into a service sector in the grip of economic reform. Based on documentary sources, oral history, and two years fieldwork, I examine how commercial life has transformed in these marketplaces since the late twentieth-century, years which have seen the Grand Bazaar develop into one of the world’s largest tourist sites and the nightlife market in Taksim become a crucible for youth subcultures, including an elaborate gay scene. Focusing on the souvenir business of an Alevi Kurdish family in the bazaar and a partnership between two gay nightlife entrepreneurs, I show that even as these markets have become entangled in larger governmental projects of economic development, commerce in the two milieux has come to resonate in unexpected ways with Clifford Geertz’s classic model of a bazaar economy and Walter Benjamin’s characterisation of an arcade. I argue that interpersonal encounters in these two socially heterogeneous markets – “making bazaar” (i.e. bargaining) and “making street” (i.e. promenading) – afford distinct spaces of disclosure where people explore the possibilities of exchange for articulating varieties of social difference. Even as non-Muslim minorities in these marketplaces have been largely replaced by other minorities, I suggest that certain patterns of pluralism historically associated with the Ottoman millet system inflect how people deal with ethnonational difference in the bazaar in terms of “country” and how people appeal to “culture” as they navigate sexual possibilities in the nightlife market. Developing an ethnographic approach to interdisciplinary debates on neoliberalism and cosmopolitanism, my dissertation outlines a methodology for investigating how people themselves explore changing markets, probing the potential of emergent forms of belonging – like my informants, discovering what country can be if not a nation and what culture can be if not a consensus.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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