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Ispanakçı Viranesi and The Arapkirlis

The non-Istanbul-born Muslim residents of Kasap ƒlyas at the end of the nineteenth century had come from a wide variety of places within the empire, and some of them even from abroad. The largest single group of migrants to the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle, however, had come, according to the 1885 census documents, from the city of Arapkir and its surroundings, in east-central Anatolia. To those migrants originating from Arapkir must be added those coming from the neighboring small towns of Arguvan, Keban, A™ın, Divri™i,
Akçada™, and Malatya. These were all small towns situated within a circle with a radius of about fifty kilometers having Arapkir at its center. All of them were, at the time, part of the Ottoman Province of Mamuretülâziz.12
It is well documented that there were people from Arapkir and from its surroundings living in Kasap ƒlyas as early as the last quarter of the eighteenth century. We shall examine the structures and the processes of urban integration of this group of migrants in greater detail. For reasons of practicality we
shall call them all “the Arapkirlis” and shall, when necessary, specify the precise place of birth of a particular person.

The Arapkir-born migrants in Kasap ƒlyas, especially in the second half of the nineteenth century, provide an exceptional case where the historical background and detailed documentation of an Ottoman urban migration process, albeit on very small scale, becomes possible. The mechanics of migration and integration into city-life (approximate dates of arrival to the city, particular household and family structures and living arrangements, acquisition of legal documents of residence in the city, relationships with the rest of the mahalle, occupational integration and social mobility, etc.) which applied to the Arapkirlis arriving to our neighborhood can be followed through documentary evidence. The chain-migration of the Arapkirlis to Istanbul and their quick integration into city-life is probably not a sui generis process and may perhaps be taken to constitute, in a nutshell, a sort of archetype for rural migration from Anatolia toward the Ottoman capital.

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