Dark Histories

Nighttime and Nightlife in the Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Mediterranean

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The nocturnal rhythms of the eastern Mediterranean city have been in turn celebrated and reviled by residents and outsiders alike, but rarely have they received major scholarly attention. From the 1870s, new hotels, bars, theatres, cinemas, and brothels linked by a spreading network of gas- and electric-lit streets served a growing tourist, commercial, and local clientele and provided the components of a globally familiar nightlife economy and culture. Meanwhile, seemingly more traditional practices, such as calls to prayer and religious festivals, numerous in such multi-denominational cities, continued to run into the early hours of the morning. These old and new nighttime happenings were debated, challenged, and regulated by municipal, national and imperial civilian and military authorities, unleashing, in the words of Henri Lefebvre, ‘a struggle for appropriation […] in which rhythms play a major role’. Our workshop brings together developing research on the contestation of this changing urban nightlife economy and culture in the eastern Mediterranean.

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