Mixing time: Ancient-modern intersections along the western Anatolian railways

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Abstract

Since the 1860s, two railroads have united the prominent port of İzmir (Smyrna) with the fertile valleys of the Gediz and Menderes Rivers in what is now western Turkey. The construction and subsequent use of these rail lines introduced new groups of Europeans and Americans to western Anatolia and resulted in a constant interaction between newcomers and local people and landscape. Historical sources capture an extensive record of how yabancıs (outsiders) perceived and conceptualized their surroundings. A prominent aspect of their perceptions was the compartmentalization of western Anatolia into three identifiable categories: ancient, oriental and modern. These categories were culturally conditioned in the minds of nineteenth-century visitors to the Ottoman Empire before they even arrived in Anatolia. First, they were familiar with the landscape as described by ancient sources such as Herodotus and the New Testament. As a consequence, they understood this region as the birthplace of the Classical foundations of the western civilization that they had inherited and were perpetuating and progressing. The prevalent orientialism of the time conditioned them to expect a timeless, unchanging and exoticized orient of the Ottoman present, symbolized by camels, indolence and harems. Once in Anatolia, they conceived of the train as a sign of modern progress endowed to the region by the ‘west’. Through their writings, foreigners convey a tangible sense of the dissonance they perceived in the immediate spatial juxtaposition of these three constructed and overlapping perceptions, manifesting a palpable sense of non-simultaneity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProducing Non-Simultaneity
Subtitle of host publicationConstruction Sites as Places of Progressiveness and Continuity
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Pages185-201
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781351393195
ISBN (Print)9781138299061
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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