The change of time and transformation of place in the Ottoman world: City of Istanbul in the second half of the 19th century

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Istanbul Technical University, Lisansüstü Eğitim Enstitüsü, Art History, Turkey

Approval Date: 2021

Thesis Language: Turkish


Supervisor: Tuncay Zorlu


The present study aims to discuss the changes and anti-change reactions that the society and state institutions, who were shaped by the traditional time of muwakkit (time-keeper), underwent as a result of the adoption of mechanical clock in the course of Ottoman modernization. Besides, after the use of mechanical watches, attention was drawn to the use of the space before and after the mechanical clock in government institutions and public places. It also aims to examine the similarities and differences between the Ottoman and European modernization processes as well as to demonstrate the influences of time systems on the Ottoman state institutions and society in the 19th century. Comparison, mutual interaction, encounter, confrontation, disagreement, and reconciliation of Ottoman and European time systems in various platforms will be the main point of our work. The results of both clock settings in society and government institutions will be examined and the effects of these consequences on the use of space will be examined. The results of both clock settings in society and government institutions will be examined and the effects of these consequences on the use of space will be examined. Transformation of the traditional muwakkits (time-keepers) into modern watch mechanics; the appearance of clock repair as a new profession; uncertainties and crises of time caused by the symbiosis of old and new time systems; transition culture; the interplay between concepts of time and discipline in education, especially in military schools; introduction of timetable, arrival and departure times; new concepts such as being late or punctual, waiting and waiting rooms for trains and steamships, are among the trajectory of this study. Moreover, change and transformation of the concept of time is taken up from political, social and literary perspectives throughout the thesis. Another important point that the thesis puts forward is that secular and modern times tried to open a room for itself in the face of the difficulty in giving up the traditional time, and sacredness attributed to it due to prayer times. As the timekeeper retains the power of determining and telling a time clock for a long time in politics, working, and social life both during sundial and mechanical clock usage, the effect of the space on other areas will be tried to be shown. The thesis also discusses the concepts of progress and modernization vis-à-vis backwardness in line with the confrontation of the supporters of old and new time cultures. In addition to this, both the muwakkithane, which is the center of the sundial, and the clock towers, the center of the mechanical watch, have been examined as the indicators of a show of strength or symbols of sovereignty among rulers, bureaucrats, and elites. Also, clock towers, like the timekeepers, determine the time after the twentieth century and affect many areas as in the timekeeper. Therefore, attention will be drawn to the role of time and time structures in deciphering the relationship between business, social and political life. As an integral part of modernization attempts and adoption of the European time system, illumination of Istanbul's streets at night in such cosmopolitan districts as Galata, Pera and Beyoğlu and, the emergence of new nightlife raised some new concerns such as security and control, which is involved in our thesis as well. The use of the clock, the determination of its place in social and working life with different parameters, and the change in the usage situation of each place that needs the clock will be examined. Therefore, the use of the clock space and the use of space also affected the functioning of the clock. Following most developments in Europe in the nineteenth century, the Ottomans often made arrangements and constructions of bridges, roads, and squares to show that Istanbul was a world city. Even though it remained in most projects, it has been important to closely follow technological developments. The arrangement of city squares, the construction of piers, and stops for ferries and trams changed the habits of both social and working life and paved the way for living and working depending on the hour. As a result, every technological move the Ottomans made for the city of Istanbul made it necessary to be faster in work and social life. Ultimately, technological developments have affected the urban order and paved the way for people to go out in the evening and participate more in entertainment life. It is obvious that the lighting of the streets is primarily for the security of the city of Istanbul. However, in the evening, the people used more entertainment places such as Beyoğlu, and naturally, it also provided more use of the place in the evening than in the past. So, how were your work and social life? The answer to this question is of course given in detail in the fourth chapter. However, when we look at the positions of women in business and social life, two different lifestyles emerge. The first of these is a life that takes place only within the boundaries of the home and neighborhood, and the second is a life created by working women. In this study, besides secondary sources such as contemporary books, theses, and articles, Ottoman archival documents, correspondences, decrees, regulations, newspapers, journal articles, and literary works written by leading authors are included as primary sources of the period under examination. Assessment of the events, concepts, discussions, and turning points are taken up and assessed from an interdisciplinary perspective and with qualitatve data analysis method.