Project

People’s Gardens: Structuring Public Leisure Space in the Late Ottoman Empire, 1870-1918

Program

Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art

Department

Art

Abstract

People’s Gardens is an interdisciplinary study of the first Ottoman recreation grounds modeled after European urban parks, starting in the year 1870. It focuses on case studies of public gardens in key Ottoman cities such as Istanbul and Thessaloniki to examine how landscape design intersected with developments in leisure culture, the expansion of infrastructure and technology, and colonial territorial interests during the final decades of the Ottoman empire. These new leisure spaces came into existence when economic, political and cultural shifts were transforming Ottoman society, and they were platforms upon which this transformation could be displayed and practiced. They may have served as symbols of administrative reform, and fit into the control mechanisms of the state, but they were also spaces where members of the public addressed and challenged state power. This project advocates for the need to preserve extant historical gardens and parks as important sites of collective memory. This project argues for the gardens’ historical significance as sites of social production and advocates for their preservation as markers of urban heritage.