Earthquakes in Istanbul: Past Disasters and Anticipation of Future Risk

with Elizabeth Angell

Istanbul has a long recorded history of large earthquakes, and unfortunately, many of the buildings constructed during the city's recent expansion are not equipped to withstand a large quake. Thus, the issue of retrofitting buildings to survive earthquakes as well as the development of emergency response services have become major concerns for many of the city's residents, particularly in the wake of the 1999 İzmit earthquake. In this episode of the Ottoman History Podcast, Elizabeth Angell discusses Istanbul's seismic past, it's current state of earthquake preparedness, and the ways in which people and organizations are evaluating and responding to risk.

This podcast is released at 3:02 AM EET on August 17 to coincide with the annual observance of the 1999 quake's anniversary.

Elizabeth Angell is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University researching earthquake anticipation in Istanbul
Chris Gratien is a PhD student studying the history of the modern Middle East at Georgetown University (see
Nicholas Danforth is a PhD student studying the history of modern Turkey at Georgetown University (see

Select Bibliography:

Ambraseys, Nicholas Nicholas, and Caroline Finkel (1995). The Seismicity of Turkey and Adjacent Areas: A Historical Review, 1500-1800. Istanbul: Eren.

Barka, Aykut, and Ali Er (2002). Depremini Bekleyen Şehir İstanbul. İstanbul: Om Yayınevi.

Bein, Amit (2008). “The Istanbul Earthquake of 1894 and Science in the Late Ottoman Empire.” Middle Eastern Studies 44 (6): 909-924.

Gavrilis, George (2001). “Covering Disasters, Natural or Otherwise: Media, Politics, and the Public Sphere in Post-Earthquake Turkey.” New Perspectives on Turkey 24: 141-164.

Green, Rebekah A. (2008). "Unauthorized Development and Seismic Hazard Vulnerability: a Study of Squatters and Engineers in Istanbul, Turkey," Disasters 32 (3): 358-376.


Unknown said…
Very intelligent history and explanation of the earthquake problem in Istanbul. I may be prejudiced as she is my daughter.

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