The municipal compound in late Ottoman Gaza: local appropriations of a tanzimat institution and their visual and material communication

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Dokumentart: Buch (einzelnes Kapitel)
Date: 2022-08-15
Source: Ben-Bassat, Yuval; Büssow, Johann: From the Household to the Wider World. Tübingen University Press 2022
Language: English
Other Keywords: Gaza
government compound
municipal garden
Ottoman Tanzimat reforms
local-imperial interaction
symbolic communication
Provincial Code of 1864
Municipal Law of 1877
spatialized factionalism
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The introduction of formalized municipalities was a central component of Ot- toman political reform during the late 19th century. As of the 1860s, Ottoman legislation and the combined efforts of state officials and local notables initiated an Empire-wide streamlining of the existing plurality of traditions of urban governance. The main institu- tion behind these reforms in the urban sphere was the modern municipality, as defined by the Municipal Law of 1877. Along with this institutional standardization, the architectural profile of the modern municipality was redesigned to meet Empire-wide standards. This chapter ventures into the still largely unwritten history of the Municipality of Gaza and examines how the “standard package” of Ottoman municipal reform was appropriated by local actors. In so doing, it concentrates on the visual sources that provide information on the physical seat of the municipality, the “municipal compound,” and the ways in which its architecture was planned and executed to communicate the political visions and divisions in the city. In particular, this chapter looks at how two pairs of collective actors shaped the municipal compound and its surroundings. The first is the Sultan and his government in their dealings with the municipal council, and the second is the two factional camps that dominated Gaza’s political scene, with a description of their emergence and physical estab- lishment. Overall, the chapter conceptualizes the municipal compound as a unit of analysis in the urban history of Greater Syria and demonstrates the power of a combined analysis of visual and textual sources in revealing hitherto unnoticed dynamics in urban society.

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