About Alexander Schweig
I am a PhD candidate currently writing a dissertation on the social history of technology in the late Ottoman Empire. Specifically, I am studying the ways in which the construction and early operation of the Anatolian Railroad interacted with existing social and economic patterns in Central Anatolia from the 1890s until 1914. By taking a social historical and user-centered approach to the history of technology, I seek to complicate the model of technology transfer in the Middle East as a process of “Westernization,” as well as to demonstrate the ways new technology enabled existing Ottoman patterns of trade, labor, and land use to be synthesized with new patterns, rather than simply being replaced by them. Doing so also allows me to reexamine the relationship between the centralizing Ottoman state and its subjects.
My research makes use of sources from a variety of sites including the Prime Ministry Ottoman Archive, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, the SALT Research Center, and the Ataturk Library in Istanbul, the Prime Ministry Republican Archive, the Red Crescent Archive and the Turkish National Library in Ankara, and the British National Archives in London.