Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, City University of New York (CUNY) / Graduate Center

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2016
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, City University of New York (CUNY) / Graduate Center
Electrifying the Nation-State: Generating Citizens in Turkey's Early Republican Era (1923-1950)

The history of electrification in Turkey is connected to the transformation of social life, the formation of a late modernizing nation-state, and the formation of citizens who became consumers of energy derived from natural resources. Through archival ethnography and oral history, this project analyzes the process that brought modern citizens and state into being through the production and provision of an electrical infrastructure in the early Republican era, 1923-1950. In the late Ottoman years preceding this era, the use of electricity and the possibilities it brought to urban centers reflected the anxieties inherent to a late-modernizing, non-Western public. Throughout the modernization process, the rural was undermined in favor of urbanization, while the conditions of modernization were created by those who lived in the rural areas such as peasants turned mineworkers, as well as by the dispossession of a non-Muslim bourgeoisie. Thus, debates around electricity, its use and production lay one of the bases upon which Turkish nationalism developed, connecting capital, materiality, infrastructure and modernity. This project aims to integrate the history of materiality and infrastructure with the project of state-building, modernization and subject formation by investigating the relationship between state, capital, electricity and society. It will bridge the divide between two approaches to the concept of state in Turkey: those which focus on class, capital and state power as their object of analysis, and those that hone in on subject formation and the experience of state power in the everyday.