Istanbul, the economic, cultural, and historical heart of Turkey, is the only city in the world located on two continents. Its population is about 14 million, making it the fifth largest city in the world. Between 1453 and 1922, Istanbul was the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, which extended into southeastern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. Until 1924, it was the seat of the last Islamic caliphate. During an era of Middle Eastern nationalism, Istanbul became a peripherialized urban center and only regained its position as a world city at the turn of the twenty-first century. Due to its extensive history, Istanbul has been called a “palimpsest city”, bearing the remains of Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires. Today, it is one of the top-ten tourist destinations in the world. In 2010, Istanbul was named European Capital of Culture. In 2013, there were violent anti-government protests in the city which targeted massive urban renewal projects and the conservative, neoliberal order embraced by the ruling AK Party.

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The Istanbul Studies Center (ISC) provides an interdisciplinary forum for innovative research on socio-economic, political, and cultural processes in world cities, with a focus on Istanbul.

A sequence of letters addressed to the city of Istanbul

Istanbul and the coming neo-cosmopolitanism: discusses the issues surrounding the implementation of neo-liberal policies and development projects in Istanbul particularly the marginalization of monolingual, monocultural and low-skilled workers.

MejaIstanbul: detailing the effects of urban memory in Istanbul’s metropolitan areas.


A Duke project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's "Partnership in a Global Age"