Communal Boundaries and Confessional Policies in Ottoman Niš

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

Abstract

This article focuses on communal boundaries in nineteenth-century Ottoman Niš, a city located in what is today southern Serbia. In particular, it explores the implications of Robert Hayden’s model of “antagonistic tolerance” for Ottoman urban history. In a first step, by taking into consideration the urban form of Niš from a long-term historical perspective, we consider how urban space was divided between inhabitants with different religious backgrounds. The article then turns to consider the symbolic boundaries that existed between confessional groups in nineteenth-century Niš, which can be traced by looking at the construction of churches and mosques. By examining the ways in which communal boundaries were expressed, negotiated and changed through church and mosque buildings, we can begin to render the confessional policies of the Ottoman authorities more transparent.

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