EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 10 Jun 2020 | 14:00–15:30

The Politics and Affect of Electricity in Late Ottoman Istanbul

Nurçin Ileri (EUME Fellow 2019/20), Chair: Ilkay Yilmaz (Freie Universität Berlin / EUME Fellow 2019/20)

Societies do not interact with technologies and infrastructures in a vacuum. Geographical, political, and socio-economic factors fashion the ways in which infrastructure and technologies are designed, built, and consumed in different societies. This talk traces the efforts to bring electrical technology to Istanbul and to build an urban scale power plant and electrical grid in the city between 1876 and 1919. It aims to go beyond the monolithic history of electrification as a scientific and technological project or a top-down developmental strategy. To do that, it questions how electrical technology and infrastructure became a strategic tool to actualize the political goals of various historical actors and produced new arenas of social interaction but also social conflicts and hierarchies in the late Ottoman Istanbul. In addition, it analyzes how practices surrounding the implementation, production, and consumption of the electricity had an impact on daily life, producing a range of feelings from desire to fascination, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Nurçin İleri 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. 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 and conducted a project entitled Histories of Science, Culture and Education in Istanbul Through Personal Archives (2015-2018). She spent one year in the Department of History at the Université Grenoble Alpes (2018-2019). She has been currently a EUME Fellow of the Forum Transregionale Studien associated with the Center for Metropolitan Studies of Technische Universität Berlin.

In accordance with the measures against the spread of the coronavirus, this seminar session will be held virtually. Depending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via the account of the Forum Transregionale Studien on Soundcloud.

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