• cultural identity;
  • landscape reading;
  • minority history;
  • Istanbul;
  • Turkey.

ABSTRACT. Since the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, when the Turkish nation was defined as ethnically Turkish and Muslim, the issue of ethnic minorities has been at the root of a deep insecurity concerning cultural identity and what it means to be Turkish. The movement to “recover” ethnic minority in history and in place is most visible in Istanbul, the city identified as the location of European culture in Turkey and Turkey's most culturally pluralistic city. The movement has gained pace since the formal acceptance of Turkey as a candidate for membership in the European Union and the push for reforms in human rights. It is promoted by a very small cultural and economic elite and works together with gentrification to produce elite spaces in the city, as exemplified by two neighborhoods: Kuzguncuk, a historic minority neighborhood on the Asian shore of the Bosporus; and “French Street,” a new commercial development in Beyoǧlu, on the European side of the city west of the Bosporus. These landscapes articulate a European, cosmopolitan, and multicultural place identity for Istanbul and reflect a particular notion of Turkey as modern and European, providing insight into the contemporary debate in Turkey concerning the tensions embedded at the core of Turkish cultural identity.