Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards

Sada Payır

University of Oxford, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

2023 Honorable Mention (Humanities)

Sada Payır

Sada Payır

"Entertainment, Propriety, Transgression: The 'Unorthodox' Greeks of Istanbul in the Late Ottoman Empire" 

Sada Payır offers an original perspective to the social history of 19th century Ottoman Istanbul and the study of the Greek Orthodox community there, by focusing on themes such as entertainment and entertainers, prostitution, drinking, and carnival celebrations. Drawing on a rich variety of archival, literary, and audio-visual sources including Ottoman police records, French consular reports, Greek memoirs, songs, poetry, and postcards, and taking transgression as an analytical tool, Payır explores how anxieties about social, moral, and cultural transgressions affected the lives of musicians, entertainers, prostitutes, and carnival attendees of İstanbul’s Greek community, while also examining the Greek community’s place within the broader Ottoman society. In a field that is still dominated by political histories, it is refreshing to find singers, dancers, drinkers, pimps, prostitutes and other ordinary or marginalized citizens at the center of analysis. Payır’s pluralistic approach and original insights contribute to a rewriting of history within and beyond the Ottoman world.

The dissertation was completed at University of Oxford, Pembroke College in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies under the supervision of Laurent Mignon.

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