Güçlü, Eda

Central European University

Research Topic: Urban Tanzimat and the Social Practices of Property in Nineteenth-Century Istanbul

Ms. Güçlü’s dissertation focuses on the social practices of property in nineteenth-century Istanbul, and examines how property relations were entangled at the interface of distinctive modes of urban modernity. Her project reveals how property mediated personal, communal, and state-society relations in the process of urban re-planning and spatio-temporal restructuring that the Ottoman capital as well as many other cities went through in disparate contexts throughout the world during this same historical period. She explores the reconfiguration of urban space and the emergence of wide and straight streets on a grid system as the dominant form of urban typology. This new form of the street was not only a matter of new urban aesthetics but also the space where the rhythm of the rent market was restructured for the creation and recreation of new use and exchange values in the built environment. She calls this change “street capitalism,” and measure it against narrative and legal strategies that different historical actors fashioned in juxtaposition to uneven and compelling processes of modernization in their daily environment with reference to their social and moral values as well as customary practices. She explore moments of contestation, contradiction, ambiguity, negotiation, persuasion, opposition as well compliance in the space of the ‘modern’ – the street – where property owners fashioned competing notions of justice and morality in the collective and social production of property. Drawing on a large corpus of neglected petitions presented by property owners, court cases, narrative sources, and cadastral surveys, my work aims to reveal how the discourses of modernity, state legitimacy and justice were localized as tangible practices on the ground.