Teneke mahalles in the late Ottoman capital: A socio-spatial ground for the co-inhabitation of Roma immigrants and the local poor
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The term teneke mahalle, literally "tin can neighbourhood," has been widely used since the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 to describe a specific kind of urban fabrication, possibly poor and physically dilapidated, but also the sole, cheapest, and undoubtedly creative solution for the urgent housing needs of the poorest segments of the urban population. Even though these neighbourhoods were initially built at least partly by Muslim refugees, the Roma Mohadjirs,(1) teneke mahalles also welcomed other poor members of society seeking informal, easily accessible, and safe housing in late Ottoman Istanbul. This study discusses the role of the Roma in the formation of teneke mahalles, and the socio-historical dynamics that directed the non-Roma poor to co-inhabitation with Roma in these teneke mahalles, and outlines their socio-economic and cultural profile from various respects on the basis of the two oldest examples of this socio-spatial and perceptual phenomenon in Istanbul.