Ottoman Urban Neighbourhoods
Alada, Adalet Bayramoğlu. Osmanlı Şehrinde Mahalle. İstanbul: Sümer, 2008, 247pp.


Ottoman Urban Neighbourhoods

Osmanlı Şehrinde Mahalle

This study focuses on the Ottoman neighbourhood and is divided into four chapters. The first, entitled ‘Urban Legacy’, studies the city among Ancient Turks, Byzantines, Muslims, Anatolian Seljuks, and Ottomans. After this historical introduction, the book embarks in the second chapter on an analysis of municipal establishments, namely vakfs (endowments), guild organisations, and the neighbourhood. 

It is only in the third chapter that the author begins to scrutinise the Ottoman neighbourhood. After a general look into the concept of neighbourhood, she analyses the significance of neighbourhood for Ottomans under five major sub-headings. 

The first analyses the place of neighbourhoods in Ottoman society with a focus on the economic structure and relations. It also touches on the determining roles of Islam, örfî (customary) law and social culture. 

The second looks at the issue of neighbourhood either as a legal entity or a unit of civil society. 

The third deals with the physical and demographic features and the fourth with the social structure and relations in the neighbourhood. In this context, the author examines the concepts of successive liabilities, shared responsibility, and the inhabitants’ rights as neighbours. 

Finally under the fifth sub-heading, she investigates the institutional structure of neighbourhood as an administrative unit. She draws attention to the mosque as a social and administrative centre, focusing on administrative organisation within neighbourhoods, and the avarız akçası vakfı (foundations established by philanthropists under the Ottomans) as an autonomous and corporate source for the neighbourhood. 

The fourth chapter is focused on the change of the traditional neighbourhood since the 19th century. 

Although the author presents this book in relation to some current issues regarding the neighbourhood in general, those who are interested in the local administration of the Ottoman Empire will benefit from it most. 

Hasan Çolak
Çolak, Hasan. “English abstract of 'of Ottoman Urban Neighbourhoods'". Translated by Hasan Çolak. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 98. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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