The Imperial Harem network in Istanbul, 1850s–1922
Place of publicationNew York
SourceIstanbul - Kushta - Constantinople Narratives of Identity in the Ottoman Capital, 1830-1930
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Istanbul seen through the eyes of the women of the nineteenth-century Imperial Harem: an initial reflection on this theme suggests a contradiction. As a social network that covered the whole city of Istanbul, the Imperial Harem kept its seclusion and its distance from the other "city people" until the very end of Ottoman rule. The description of the harem as a social system is a theme to which all authors attach great importance. All of them describe the Imperial Harem as a highly secluded place whose inhabitants formed a close community with fixed rules and a very sophisticated hierarchy, which every woman had to obey. All six authors state that during their period of stay, the women who lived in the Imperial Harem were mainly of Caucasian origin.