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"Gurbet Istanbul": Being a Migrant in the Ottoman Capital, 1453–1800

Istanbul was and still is a city of immigrants. After the Ottoman conquest in 1453, the sultans revived the city by ‘imported’ populations from the provinces, prisoners of war from Iran and the Balkans, and slaves from Eastern Europe. Istanbul then became a refuge and home for Spanish Jews and Moriscos and, later, absorbed large numbers of refugees from Anatolia. As the capital of a world empire, it attracted students, career-seekers, merchants, and a growing number of labor migrants from the Balkans, Anatolia, and beyond. Immigration presented challenges, not only for the state and the urban society but also for the migrants, who had to build a new life and make home in a foreign place. This project aims to tell their stories and explore the connection between migration and belonging in the Ottoman world between 1453 and 1800. It examines how different people experienced migration and set root in the city, negotiating their regional and religious affiliations, and how this affected their social relations and their sense of home and of self.