"Ghiaour Smyrna": Cultural Dialogues of the Encounter between British Mercantile Communities of Smyrna and Bournabat and Local Ethnicities in the 18th to Early 20th Century
In this paper I explore the spatial manifestations of the encounter between the British mercantile aristocracy of Smyrna and its Turkish, Jewish, Armenian and Greek neighbors. I map the British interface with local ethnicities in Smyrna (Izmir) and its outlying village of Bournabat (Bornova) from the late 18th to early 20th century. In this "geography of difference" occur many public divides as well as intriguing private hybridities. I examine the built environment as a material entity (what remains and its use), visual representations, and narratives either from unpublished diaries and commercial archives, published accounts of early travelers, or oral histories of present occupants. I also investigate the vernacular landscapes of the British gardens of Bournabat. I examine issues of empowerment and security by means of control of access, circulation and vista, contrasting "spaces of dialogue" and the exclusionary architecture of the casino with its seaside terraces or "viewing edge" symbolizing social stratification. In particular, I focus on punctuated loci of transition between public and private space and the role of nostalgic architectural ekphrasis in the codification of British society in an unfamiliar milieu. I stepped into this privileged world seven years ago while studying the extinct British community at the Dardanelles. Invited by a resident of Bournabat to document its people, history, and houses, I began to collect narratives before they were lost. Fortunately the British community in Bornova is still a living culture. While I am focus on the British experience, it is nearly impossible to extricate the English from the Levantine European community of which they were a part, particularly in the 20th century.
Keywords: Spatial Manifestations, British mercantile aristocracy, Local ethnicities
Susan Heuck Allen
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Providence College