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IMCI scholar Burçe Çelik’s book received the Runner-Up Award for Best Book of 2023 at International Communication Association, Global Communication and Social Change Division in June 2024

4 July 2024

2 mins

IMCI scholar Burçe Çelik’s book Communications in Turkey and Ottoman Empire: A Critical History received the Runner-Up Award for Best Book of 2023 at International Communication Association, Global Communication and Social Change Division in June 2024.

In the context of contemporary efforts to decolonise knowledge production, this book shifts focus from present-day analyses to a longue durée examination of modern communications in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, spanning from the mid-1800s to the mid-2010s. By situating the locus of knowledge within the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, it poses the question: What if the history of modern communications development were not written from the vantage point of Anglo-European societies? What could we learn from other histories about the evolution of global communications and social change to inform our present-day understandings and imaginations of media and communications? Answering these questions, the book challenges Anglo- and Eurocentric assumptions that see the non-West as an ahistorical imitation of, or aberration from, the development of Western communications.

Contrary to the prevalent assumption that communications is a byproduct of Western capitalist-modernity and liberal democracy, the history of communications in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey reveals an alternative trajectory of modern communications emerging within the milieu of non-capitalist modernity and cosmopolitan political society. Integrating political economy with social history, this book explores the commodification and militarisation of communications and its impact on oppressed populations, including women, the working class, and ethnic and religious minorities. Rather than adopting a medium-specific or media-centric approach, the book conceives communications holistically as an assemblage of materiality and discursivity that encompasses (tele)communications infrastructures, means of communications, the state, the military, the market, labour force, practices, and social production of meaning. In doing so, it situates communications within social and geopolitical relations and struggles within multiple temporalities of modernities and capitalism.

Employing a chronological approach and drawing upon a wide array of resources, including Turkish, Ottoman, US, and British archival records, as well as journalistic representations and memoirs, the book reveals the intricate interplay between communications and political-economic and socio-cultural struggles. The book also provides a long history of populism from the perspective of media and communication studies from the late Ottoman era to contemporary Turkish politics.

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