2022/ 2023

Nurçin İleri

The Electrification of Istanbul: Technology, Politics, and Everyday Life

Previous Fellowships: 2021/ 2022, 2020/ 2021, 2019/ 2020

received her PhD from the Department of History at Binghamton University in 2015. Her dissertation, A Nocturnal History of fin de siècle Istanbul, casts light on the social and material geographies of night that went beyond the dichotomies of the ‘city of glittering leisure and consumption,’ or the ‘city of indigence and vice.’ Her dissertation research has led to several publications in peer-reviewed journals including Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, Etudes balkaniques, and New Perspectives on Turkey. She taught courses on the history of the late Ottoman Empire and contemporary Turkey at Boğaziçi and Işık Universities (2012-2018). She worked as the assistant coordinator of the Boğaziçi University Archives and Documentation Center, where she conducted a project entitled “Histories of Science, Culture and Education in Istanbul Through Personal Archives” and was involved in curating and writing material for on-site and online exhibitions (2015-2018). She spent one year as a post-doctoral scholar in the Department of History at the Université Grenoble Alpes (2018-2019) and six months as a visiting researcher at the Center of Metropolitan Studies of Technische Universität Berlin (2019-2020). During the academic years 2020-2022, she is a EUME Fellow associated with the IGK Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History (re:work) of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

The Electrification of Istanbul: Technology, Politics, and Everyday Life

Nurçin İleri studies on the history of electrification in the late Ottoman and early Republican Istanbul (1876-1939). Her project focuses on the efforts to build an urban scale power plant and electric grid in Istanbul and explores how electrical technology and infrastructure transformed public, industrial, and domestic spaces, and rearranged the rhythm of everyday life. It examines how the transfer, generation, distribution, and consumption of this new technology triggered a range of encounters and dialogues among the state authorities, city administration, multinational investors, experts, workers, and consumers. Ileri questions how the electricity network of artifacts, knowledge, labor, and political ideologies reinforced new hierarchies and inequalities in institutions, in the city’s natural and built environment and in daily life. Her research relies on a wide range of sources; state archives, foreign diplomatic archives, company/consortium archives, local periodicals, and memoirs; and reveals how the history of electrification in Istanbul stands at the intersection of transnational political and economic networks and tells another history of global capitalism both in the Middle Eastern and European contexts.