Ileri, Nurçin and Cansu Değirmencioğlu

Erken Cumhuriyet Dönemi Türkiyesi’nde Asri Ev Tartışmaları ve Elektrikli Tenvirat

[Electrical Illumination and Debates on Modern House in Early Republican Turkey]

The formation of the nation-state in Turkey witnessed the use of electrical technology not only in industrial and public spaces but also in domestic ones as a target to bolster rationalized home culture. The newly electrically illuminated exhibition spaces of the Republican Turkey were promising and futuristic at the time. These spaces aimed to generate a spirit of progress, admiration, optimism, belonging, and togetherness among citizens who came together to see them. The modern home also reflected this new spirit and functioned as one of the exhibition spaces of the new regime. The promotion of the use of electrical lighting progressed in parallel with the aim of the new regime to make their citizens rational, scientific, efficient, logical, healthy, and hygienic. Moreover, the electrical commodities were advertised with the images of modern women, men, and children so that they could promote the regime’s emphasis on “modernity”.

While electric light that represented the zeitgeist entered homes, it also played a complementary role in the interplay between new routines and objects. Outreaching the goals of the ruling regime and acting as an agent of change, electrical technology, therefore, transformed the home interiors while embodying the abstract modernization discourses of the Republic. In addition, it created a distinctive material culture. This study examines how the electrical lighting in domestic spaces shaped the efforts of "modernization” in the early years of the Republic at the discursive and practical level. By analysing official and popular publications that encouraged the domestic use of electric illumination, this study further aims to bring an interdisciplinary approach to contemporary debates on the rationalized and modern homes of the 20th century.

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