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Occupied Istanbul: Urban Politics, Culture, and Society, 1918-1923

Occupied Istanbul: Urban Politics, Culture, and Society, 1918-1923

Istanbul | Boğaziçi University

25 - 27 September 2020, 18:00 - 18:00

At 9.40 a.m. on 16 March 1920, Andrew Ryan of the British high commission presented the Ottoman prime minister, Salih Hulusi Paşa, with a note informing him that the Allies had declared martial law and occupied Istanbul. Earlier in the morning, British, French, and Italian troops, present in the city since November 1918, had conducted a series of arrests of high profile former and serving Ottoman officials and officers and taken control of multiple government ministries. Allied forces would not depart from Istanbul until 6 October 1923.

The centenary of the official occupation presents a useful moment in which to promote a more comprehensive study of the politics, culture, and society of Istanbul during the period. Despite the wealth of relevant multi-national archival holdings available, the occupation has been largely ignored in public memory and academic writing in the former occupying powers and is often marginalised in the Anatolian-focused history of the War of Independence in Turkey. The few English-language publications to date have focused on international diplomacy around the status of Istanbul while Turkish literature has concentrated on nationalist responses to the occupation, leaving developments in the city itself largely unexplored.

The work of several early career scholars is now making up for this historiographical neglect, and it is hoped that the occupation’s centenary will prompt academics with expertise in the adjacent periods of late Ottoman and early Republican history to extend their research to the years 1918-1923.

Keywords: Istanbul, Occupation, History

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