Ottoman Port Cities of the Modern Mediterranean

Episode 500

hosted by Andreas Guidi and Zeynep Ertuğrul

At the turn of the twentieth century, Ottoman port cities of the Eastern Mediterranean were sites of vibrant cultural encounters. While infrastructural innovations at docks and quays reshaped the urban waterfront, the inhabitants of Izmir, Istanbul, and Salonica engaged with new forms of entertainment arriving from Europe. Operas, balls, and beerhouses changed the way people mingled and interpreted coexistence and diversity in their urban environment. Migrants from Europe and from the hinterlands of major port cities created an original form of Ottoman Mediterranean modernity. This cosmopolitan urban culture was alluring and festive but also had its discontents, who denounced it as decadent and servile to European imperialism. Exploring the everyday life of late Ottoman port cities reveals an effervescent lapse of time in which notions such as modernity, Europe, empire, and nation could be experienced in manifold ways, before the major conflicts of the twentieth century gave a fatal blow to Mediterranean urban diversity.

This episode is cross-listed with The Southeast Passage.

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Contributor Bios

Malte Fuhrmann is a research fellow at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin specializing in the history of the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey, and Southeast Europe. Besides Port Cities of the Eastern Mediterranean: Urban Culture in the Eastern Mediterranean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2020) he has published numerous articles, edited volumes, and monographs, including Konstantinopel – Istanbul. Stadt der Sultane und Rebellen (Constantinople – Istanbul: City of Sultans and Rebels), Frankfurt (M.): Fischer 2019, and The City in the Ottoman Empire: Migration and the Making of Urban Modernity, London: Routledge 2011, a volume edited together with Ulrike Freitag, Nora Lafi, Florian Riedler. Malte is currently working on a comparison of development discourse in modern Bulgaria and Turkey.
Andreas Guidi is Lecturer of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Konstanz, Germany. After his joint Ph.D. at the Humboldt University in Berlin and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, he is preparing a monograph tentatively entitled “Youth between Empires: Generations, Fascist Colonialism, and the post-Ottoman Mediterranean in Rhodes”. His post-doc project investigates how smugglers and illegal trade contributed to constructing a transnational modern Mediterranean.
Zeynep Ertuğrul is a PhD student at the Humboldt University in Berlin and the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. She is working on a dissertation project entitled “Preaching the Republic: The Spokespeople of the Single-Party Regime in Turkey.”

Further Listening
Devin Naar 314
Jewish Salonica and the Greek Nation
Alexis Wick 258
The Ottoman Red Sea
Jasmin Daam, Esther Möller, Cyrus Schayegh, Selim Deringil 467
The Mediterranean Viewed from the Southern Shore
Kalliopi Amygdalou 337
Izmir & Thessaloniki: from Empire to Nation-State
Sotiris Dimitriadis 094
Salonica in the Age of Ports


Episode No. 500
Release Date: 1 April 2021
Recording Location: Berlin
Audio editing by Zeynep Ertuğrul and Andreas Guidi
Music: Turku - "Bir demet Yasemen"; Maria Papagika - "Ti se melei esenane"
Audio elements: "A quiet seaside seagulls distant", "Waves at the edge of Bosphorus", "Bbc News Sound Effects Tape (Old) - boat - ships sirens", "A night in Athens". Images and bibliography courtesy of Malte Fuhrmann


Steamers, row and sailing boats on the Istanbul Golden Horn, ca. 1890. Courtesy of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Istanbul

Lighter boats, porters, and passersby in front of the Izmir Customs House, ca. 1890. Courtesy of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Istanbul

An 1898 postcard of Salonica printed by the city's German association, featuring the modern quays. Courtesy of Malte Fuhrmann

Select Bibliography

Anastassiadou, Meropi, Salonique 1830–1912: Une ville ottomane à l’âge des réformes (Leiden: Brill, 1997).

Eldem, Edhem; Daniel Goffmann, and Bruce Alan Masters (eds.),The Ottoman City between East and West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Georgelin, Hervé, La fin de Smyrne: Du cosmopolitisme aux nationalismes (Paris: CNRS, 2005).
Eren, Ercan, Geçmişten Günümüze Anadolu’da Bira (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı, 2005).

Mestyan, Adam, Arab Patriotism: The Ideology and Culture of Power in Late Ottoman Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017).

Kaynar, Erdal, “Les jeunes Turques et l’Occident, histoire d’une deception programmée,” in François Georgeon (ed.), ‘L’ivresse de la liberté’: La revolution de 1908 dans l’Empire Ottoman (Paris: Peeters, 2012), 27–65.

Kechriotis, Vangelis, “Civilization and Order: Middle-Class Morality among the Greek-Orthodox in Smyrna/Izmir at the End of the Ottoman Empire,” in Andreas Lyberatos (ed.), Social Transformation and Mass Mobilization in the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Cities 1900–1923 (Heraklion: Panepistimio Kritis, 2013), 115–132.

Mishra, Pankaj, Age of Anger: A History of the Present (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, (2017).

Prange, Martine, “Cosmopolitan Roads to Culture and the Festival Road of Humanity,” Ethical Perspectives 14 (3/2007), 269–286.

Schmitt, Oliver Jens, Levantiner: Lebenswelten und Identitäten einer ethnokonfessionellen Gruppe im osmanischen Reich im “langen 19. Jahrhundert” (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2005).

Smyrnelis, Marie-Carmen, Une société hors de soi: Identités et relations sociales à Smyrne aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles (Paris: Peeters, 2005).


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