Contending Sovereigns, Contentious Spaces: Illicit Migration and Urban Governance in the Late Ottoman Empire
The spatial turn in social sciences have aptly demonstrated that the economic globalisation of the 19th century and the global spread of modern statecraft had happened through, rather than to the people who had began to move en masse. With an epochal rise in the circulation of people, objects and practices during the late 19th century, the imperial powers that inhabited the eastern Mediterranean would begin to deploy a variety of spatial techniques on vagabonds, prostitutes, and orphans at the face of their penetration into the city. The new underclass of les Échelles du Levant had transformed their adopted cities, for having provoked the imperial statesmen to adopt modern techniques of urban governance in regulating their circulation within and without the Ottoman Empire. In this research paper, I will present the Ottoman Empire’s interventions into the global economy of sex work, of which fin-de-siècle Istanbul had become a nodal city. The administrative practices surrounding the -categorically migrant- body of the prostitute went into circulation after and owing to the way their trans-regional migration and trans-local connections transformed the urban landscape. I shall try to demonstrate how the the imperial state tried to intervene and control their illicit circulation on two levels, within the spatial politics of urban governance (1) and through the imperial contestations in the field of international law (2). Corroborating the heterogeneity of the coloniser and the colonised, there is an evident affinity between the scope of such transnational historiography and the aspirations of postcolonial theory. I aim to situate my subject of research accordingly, to show how the colonial and imperial statesmen cohered together at the face of an increasingly mobile and heterogenous world of women.
Copyright (c) 2017 Hatice Ayse Polat
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