Zeynep Ecem Pulas’ PhD project analyses the emblematic technologies of the nineteenth century, the telegraph and railway, in the Ottoman Empire through the lens of maintenance and repair. It aims to show how the unrecognized labor of Ottoman actors who maintained and repaired these technologies was not only critical to the Empire's economic and political apparatus, but also for the wider functioning of global transport and communication networks.
By examining a mixed set of elite and non-elite Ottoman actors— engineers, telegraph clerks, local artisans, technicians, skilled workers—, as well as their ideas and their practices in maintaining and repairing the telegraph and railway, the thesis asks: How did this mixed set of Ottoman experts gain, produce and circulate knowledge through their direct engagement with such technologies?
This perspective will bring Ottoman actors, consciously controlling the material and technical resources, into 19th-century accounts of technological transformation.
Zeynep completed a double major in History and Political Science at Istanbul Bilgi University. She did her MA in Global History at Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. During her MA, she worked at the Global Labor History Research Centre (re:work) Berlin as well as the digital humanities project of the Hannah Arendt Critical Edition.