Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of Michigan

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Comparative Literature, University of Michigan
Objects of Contention: Material Culture and Modernity in Greece and Turkey

My dissertation explores the material foundations of modernity in Greece and Turkey. Tracing specific 20th-century commodity objects through each phase of their complex lives—from production to circulation to consumption—I will use novels and archives to recover the strategies by which Turkish and Greek subjects have attempted to incorporate these "things" into their own narratives. I do not deny the very real and corrosive power of global capital or state ideologies within the lives of individual Greeks and Turks. Instead, I will embody the larger ideological and institutional forces of modernization within specific objects—biscuit tins, face creams, newsprint—recovering the strategies by which Greek and Turkish subjects resisted, colluded with, and repurposed these forces. Ultimately, I aim to demonstrate just how analogous (indeed, interrelated) Greek and Turkish experiences of modernity were. Next year, I will focus on my two Turkish chapters, conducting archival research in Istanbul and Ankara. The first chapter will follow the spread of Western commodity objects in Turkey during the years of statist industrialization (1930s-1970s). Reading through journals, magazines, editorials, advertisements, memoirs and letters, I will attempt to reconstruct the narratives that these objects and their owners were weaving through their everyday practices. The second chapter will treat literature itself as an object, examining the formation of a national print culture in the 1930s and 40s. By rereading a key mid-century Turkish novel as it was originally published serially in its newspaper (situated between political editorials and commodity advertisements), and by tracing out its readership and distribution network, I will attend to the interrelation between print, state, and commodity culture.