Thesis ID: CBB609004733

Tracking Technology and Society along the Ottoman Anatolian Railroad, 1890–1914 (2019)


Schweig, Alexander (Author)
Darling, Linda T. (Advisor)

The University of Arizona
Darling, Linda T.
Publication date: 2019
Language: English

Publication Date: 2019
Physical Details: 323

The construction of the Ottoman Anatolian Railroad, along with its extension, the Baghdad Railroad, is often considered a case of foreign-driven modernization and pseudo-colonial investment in the Ottoman Empire and is assigned primary importance as a diplomatic problem aggravating tensions between the European powers in the run-up to World War I. Far less scrutiny has been given to the railroad’s intersections with and effects on the fabric of Anatolian society. This dissertation not only fills this gap in the research, but also challenges the view of technological modernization as an alien imposition upon the Ottoman Empire. It argues for the participation of a variety of agents, including many locals both reacting to and involved in creating the social and economic transformations occurring around them. I argue that provincial Anatolian modernity was an ad hoc co-creation between multiple actors rather than something solely imposed from outside or from above by foreign powers or by the Ottoman state. My research addresses the period of the construction and the first two decades of the Anatolian Railroad’s operation (1890–1914) in three districts (sancaks) of Western and Central Anatolia in order to understand the social history of technology in the late Ottoman Empire. The railroad had a profound impact on numerous aspects of Ottoman society, including labor migration, urbanization, industrialization, refugee settlement, and the intensification of export agriculture. I use the theoretical lens of the social construction of technology to argue for the relevance of the use of the railroad to questions of its “ownership.” In addition, Actor Network Theory indicates the inextricable entanglement of society and technology with each other. With these theroretical tools, I specifically examine changes in trade routes and in the relative importance of various population centers, the use of the railroad to re-settle Muslim refugees, the roles of foreigners settling in the area, and changing patterns in agriculture as well as the “labor” of banditry. Weaving all these elements together through interconnected networks allows us to see the long-debated trope of Ottoman modernization in a more complex manner, so that it is not reduced to having a single or small number of causative agents. Instead, it is conceived of as the product of numerous factors and agents often unconsciously collaborating in the collective transform of the region.

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Authors & Contributors
Baytop, Asuman
Bein, Amit
Dennis, Richard
Engelmann, Lukas
Günergun, Feza
Lynteris, Christos
Osmanli Bilimi Arastirmalari: Studies in Ottoman Science
Social Studies of Science
Environment and History
Icon: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology
International Journal of Middle East Studies
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Cambridge University Press
Istanbul University
MIT Press
Stanford University Press
The Isis Press
University of Chicago Press
Technology and society
Actor-network theory
Collectors and collecting
Bornmüller, Joseph
Efendi, Hekimbasi Salih
İzmirli İsmail Hakki
Latour, Bruno
Siehe, Walter
Tertemiz, Serafettin Tevfik
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
18th century
21st century
Ottoman Empire
Great Britain

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