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The women's quarters in the historical hammam

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Abstract:

Women's quarters in the historical hammam have had an ongoing impact on women's public lives in the Mediterranean in general and in Turkey in particular. Although the hammam is usually considered a Muslim space, its Roman roots connect its customers to other histories. In this respect, a comparative social and historical analysis of women's quarters of the hammam queries the so-called Islamic city as a standard and unchanging space distinct from its European counterparts. In this article, a hammam in Ankara, Sengul Hamamı, is presented as a changing space where women negotiate their status, social positions and safety in an urban environment. Women's usage of this space as such is achieved after they meet several challenges on their way to the hammam. These challenges involve discourses of safety and danger, purity and filth, as well as dress and undress, which all seem dichotomous but at the same time converge on different levels. As a result, these challenges contribute to the daily usage of the city by women as well as to how they negotiate the historical hammam.

Keywords: Turkey; discourses of danger; negotiations; public bath; women's quarters

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2011.552321

Affiliations: Political Science and Public Administration, Ankara University, Cebeci, Ankara, Turkey

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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