Addressing the Modern Regimes of Urban Spectacle: Revisiting the Ottoman General Exhibition of 1863 in Istanbul


JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY, 2022 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/00961442221099831
  • Title of Journal : JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY
  • Keywords: Ottoman General Exposition of 1863, Exposition Buildings, Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture, Urban Spectacle in Istanbul, Hippodrome of Istanbul, REPRESENTATION, EMPIRE


One of the most spectacular events of the Ottoman experience of modernity was the inauguration of the Ottoman General Exposition in Istanbul in 1863. The ancient Hippodrome, which is one of the most prominent venues of the city and the setting of memorable celebrations and festivals for centuries, hosted the event and provided the visitors with the opportunity to become part of the modern regimes of gaze and spectacle. This article posits three observer roles to reveal the multilayered structure of urban spectacle in mid-century Istanbul, namely the sultanic gaze, spectacle of the ordinary citizens, and the mediated experience of the foreigner. To understand the particularities of each position, I utilize several visual and textual documents about the exhibition event. Though just a single case in Ottoman urban history, the exposition enables us to understand how the new manner of modern urban spectacle emerged during a spectacular public event in Istanbul.