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Parsing a neighborhood palimpsest: The case of Balat
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CitationHaliloğlu, N. (2022). Parsing a neighborhood palimpsest: The case of Balat. Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, 8(1), 91-108.
This paper explores how layers of history can be parsed in a neighborhood through narrative analysis, using Balat, an old quarter of Istanbul, as a case study. The study tests the relevance of several methodologies and concepts, including palimpsest, chronotope and heterotopia, to see whether local, Constantinopolitan iterations of these ways of reading can be marshalled instead. To that end, it has recourse to Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar's extensive writing on Istanbul to expand on concepts such as terkip, macera and buhran. These concepts are traced backwards and forwards in time to see how they apply to different writers' work on Istanbul/Constantinople through the ages, such as Odo of Deuil, Evliya Çelebi, John Ash and Orhan Pamuk. This comparative exercise reveals an affective bond between the writers, one that favors imperial melancholia and nostalgia. The contemporary nostalgia/melancholia affect is then shown to be either savored or shunned by Istanbulites and visitors, as they make use of this poetics of the past as cultural capital, they may invest in for use on social media today.