Social Histories of Ottoman Istanbul

with Ebru Boyar & Kate Fleet

hosted by Susanna Ferguson and Nir Shafir

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The city of Istanbul underwent vast transformations over nearly five centuries of Ottoman rule, but it nonetheless retained its place at the center of Ottoman urban life. In this episode, Kate Fleet and Ebru Boyar discuss some of the transformations and continuities that shaped the urban history of Istanbul between 1453 and 1923. Natural disasters, shifting gender relations and practices of health and hygiene, and the presence of the Sultan and his court not only marked Istanbul's urban fabric but also transformed the lives of its people; the way these changes were experienced depended in part on class, gender and occupation.

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Dr. Ebru Boyar is Associate Professor of International Relations at Middle East Technical University. She is the author of A Social History of Ottoman Istanbul, with Kate Fleet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), along with many other works on Ottoman social and diplomatic history. (see
Dr. Kate Fleet is Director of the Skilleter Centre for Ottoman Studies at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Newnham College. She is the co-author of A Social History of Ottoman Istanbul, with Ebru Boyar, along with many other works. (see
Susanna Ferguson is a doctoral candidate in Middle Eastern History at Columbia University, where she focuses on the history of women and gender in the Arab world during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (
Nir Shafir is a doctoral candidate at UCLA studying Ottoman intellectual history (see


Episode No. 214
Release date: 1 December 2015
Location: Koç RCAC, Istanbul
Editing and production by Chris Gratien
Musical sample from Katibim (Uskudar'a Gider iken) - Safiye Ayla
Image via Library of Congress
Additional thanks to Buket Coşkuner


Boyar, Ebru  and Kate Fleet (eds.). Ottoman Women in Public Space. Leiden:
Brill, forthcoming 2016.

Boyar, Ebru, and Kate Fleet. A Social History of Ottoman Istanbul. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

For a complete reading list on Ottoman cities, see the Bibliography on our "Urban Space in the Ottoman World" series