Revisiting Homosociality and Homosocial Spaces in Pre-Modern Ottoman Society
Keywords:homosociality, homosocial space, public/private, heterotopia, functionality
This paper examines diverse conceptions of homosociality in pre-modern and modern societies, and discusses how these conceptions are politically, socially, culturally and spatially constructed and transformed throughout history, particularly during the modernization processes of the mid-19thcentury. Concentrating on two significant homosocial spaces, men’s coffeehouse and women’s section of the Ottoman-Turkish baths, it aims to demonstrate how homosociality is spatialized through the dissolution of the public/private dichotomy, as well as constructions of functionality in pre-modern Ottoman society. The paper follows a historical interpretative research methodology. Based on data derived from the second-hand sources available in the literature, the privatized public, complex, homoerotic and multi-functional characteristics of these homosocial spaces and their extensions towards and reflections on the Ottoman urban neighborhoods are critically analyzed and interpreted. The dissolution of the public/private dichotomy in these spaces also exemplifies the Foucaultian concept of heterotopia. The paper concludes that these traditional spaces and their modern versions demonstrate the constructedness of both gender categories and patriarchal structures.
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