Paul Benjamin Osterlund
Obtained his BA from The Evergreen State College where he studied Political Science, and is a second year MA student in Turkish Studies at Sabanci University
Locating a Revanchist Continuum in Post-Ottoman Istanbul
The roots of the term “revanchism” can be traced back to 19th century Paris. The revanchists were a bourgeois faction opposed to the sentiments of the Paris Commune and the socialist/working class behind it, who took control of the city following Napoleon III’s demise. The revanchists implemented moralist rhetoric and violent tactics against those they felt had seized and corrupted their vision of Parisian society (Slater, 2009). Neil Smith employs the term to describe the hostilities waged against the homeless population of New York City in the late 80’s/early 90’s. This paper seeks to apply Smith’s notion of the revanchist city to Istanbul. A revanchist campaign was waged against Istanbul’s “official” minority population (Greeks, Armenians and Jews) through various policies and events that were successful in forcing out the vast majority of those groups: prominent fixtures in Ottoman Istanbul. Today, one can witness a second wave of revanchism wherein the city’s “unofficial” minorities (Roma, Kurds, African migrants, transsexuals, etc.) are being systematically expelled from inner-city quarters in a violent and destructive manner. The paper explores the continuum between the first and second waves, in particular how the disinvestment of quarters such as Tarlabasi and Sulukule throughout the 20th century created the conditions of marginalization that characterized those areas up to the present, and how state actors used those conditions as justification to complete the total dissection from Istanbul’s cosmopolitan past.