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By Virginia H. Aksan

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Sample text

In 1885, the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle had 925 registered Muslim inhabitants and, in 1907, a total of 1,160 inhabitants, 1,039 of which were Muslim. Other Written Sources Quantitative data and sources for the pre-nineteenth-century Istanbul population are difficult to come by. The available estimates, most of them by European travelers and Orientalists, are approximations with a usually low degree of reliability. Besides, Istanbul was never taxed in the same manner as the provinces, never had a Tapu Tahrir Defteri, and was never, even immediately after the Ottoman conquest, subjected to a census.

A first screening was done by previously selecting the court cases where either the plaintiff, the defendant, and/or the object of discord were living or were situated in the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle. Interviews and Personal Narratives A small number of in-depth interviews have also been conducted with elderly inhabitants of Kasap ƒlyas. Nine of them were with Kasap ƒlyas-born men who were still in touch with their mahalle of origin, and one was with the wife of a former muhtar. The interviews were conducted either in their homes or in a coffeehouse in the mahalle where elderly people regularly met on Sundays.

As to the urban local level, population figures are non-existent. The first citywide reliable count is that of 1885. The Archives of the Religious Courts (¥er’iye Sicilleri Arœivi) for Istanbul are classified on a topographical basis, given that many of the courts of justice were also responsible for law and order in specific chunks of the city. The archives for the Davud Paœa District, of which the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle is a part, span the period between 1782 and 1924. The Davudpaœa Court of Justice, always headed by an aide (na’ib) of the kadı of Istanbul, was one of the oldest courts of the city.

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