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Gender and Mahalle (Neighborhood) Space in Istanbul

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Studies of gender have an important place in studies of Turkey because the discourses of Islamism and secularism, and modernity and tradition, make the bodies and practices of Turkish women the site of debate. However, few studies have used a spatial analysis to examine the production of gender in daily life. This article is simultaneously a study of how gender is produced through space and of the creation of various kinds of spaces in an Istanbul mahalle (neighborhood). The mahalle is the space of intimate daily life in the Turkish urban context, and narratives of and ways of life in the mahalle articulate competing notions of what it means to be a woman in Turkey. This study of gender and mahalle space reveals the linkages between space and gender to be multiple and shifting and the boundaries between private and public spaces to be fluid. Furthermore, this reading of gender and urban space, when brought back to the Turkish context, also contributes to research which interrogates the idea of modernity at the core of national identity in Turkey, of which gender is a central and constitutive element.
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Keywords: Gender; Turkey; neighboring; private space; urban space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of South Carolina, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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