The Rise and Fall of Turkey’s Grand Bazaar

Suzy Hansen at Lapham’s Quarterly:

For some, the Grand Bazaar, with its remnants of Ottoman behaviors and designs and artisanal crafts, might suggest itself as Turkey’s most authentic self, but in Turkey the quest for authenticity often leads you further and further away from how life is actually lived. Since even before the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Turks have seen the Grand Bazaar eclipsed many times: first by the European-style shopping boulevard, then by the stand-alone shopping mall, then by the stand-alone luxury shopping mall and apartment and office complex, and then most recently—in one of neoliberalism’s uglier incarnations—by the luxury shopping mall that invades and occupies what was once a fine nineteenth-century building on a beloved European boulevard. (See: the Demirören mall on İstiklal Street, itself a commercial and artistic center during the Ottoman and modern eras.) Turkey’s cities have also expanded tenfold—Istanbul is roughly four times London’s physical size—and bazaars and pedestrianized shopping streets now serve every neighborhood, each of them microcities with their own microeconomies, their own bakkal (corner shop) and manav (greengrocer) and kasap (butcher), which are as faithfully patronized as they would have been a century ago. By now every neighborhood also has its own mall. The Galleria belongs to the neighborhood of Ataköy, Forum Istanbul belongs to Bayrampaşa, Zorlu Center to Gayrettepe, Kanyon to Levent, İstinye Park to İstinye. There is even a Mall of Istanbul—though it should be called the Mall of Başakşehir, where it is actually located. I would never go there, for example, because it is an hour and fifteen minutes away by public transportation. The Mall of Istanbul belongs to another Istanbul entirely.

more here.