This article examines the case of Iraklio, Crete, on its passage from the Ottoman regime to the Autonomous Cretan Polity in 1898, to interrogate current categories of ethnic boundaries used in historical and social research. It proposes an ‘archaeological’ method of investigating such boundaries in space. It conceives of the city as a field of interaction between the predominant religious groups of Muslim and Christian, and the way these groups have been represented in historical research and public memory. It also shows how understandings of ethnic boundaries were fashioned by colonial, especially British, sanitary and civic planning projects. Finally, it demonstrates how subaltern Muslim spaces, gendered places and ‘dangerous’ neighbourhoods were transformed into paradigmatic cases for understanding spatial segregation in cultural terms.
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