University of Tokyo
Research Topic: Between 'Community Peace' and Public Order: Neighborhoods and Urban Administration in Istanbul (1730-54)
Ms. Morita is a PhD candidate at the University of Tokyo. Her dissertation examines the social and administrative functions of neighborhoods (mahalles) in eighteenth-century Istanbul, focusing on the time of Mahmud I (1730–54) when public disorder following the revolts became a great menace to his own regime. She explores the dynamic structure of the neighborhoods per se, where the “peace of the community” was negotiated through various relationships that determined the maintenance or the breakdown of public order. Based on empirical analyses, mainly of the court records of Istanbul, and in combination with referral to other Ottoman archives and chronicles, as well as accounts of the British and French ambassadors, she discusses how the neighborhoods played a central role in urban administration and how the government substantially relied on them regarding this issue, which was a reflection of the relations between the state and its subjects during this period. Her project seeks to be a contribution not only in that it elaborates on what the neighborhoods of the Ottoman capital were like, but also in that it locates the consolidation of these neighborhood communities as units of population control in a wider timespan of the political and social transitions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.