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Infrastructures énergétiques. Une histoire politique | séance 2




City University of New York Graduate Center (CUNY)

Electrifying Citizenship: Building Infrastructures of Consent in Occupied Istanbul (1918-1923)

Constantinople (İstanbul) : Le nouveau pont de Galata, années 1920, La Phototraphie.This presentation traces the institutional history of the Tramways and Electricity Society of Constantinople, a pioneer of electrification in the Ottoman Empire. My research rethinks the economic and social transformations after World War I, and the shifting notions of citizenship which accompanied them, by focusing on the relationships forged by the provision of electricity. I pay special attention to the years in which Istanbul was under Allied occupation, which highlight the crucial role played by electrified urban services in attempts at securing political consent and expose the complex network built by their provision.
The Tramways and Electricity Society of Constantinople was founded in a 1909 merger of German, French, and Belgian-Hungarian capital to provide metro, lighting, funicular railway and tramway services to the residents of Istanbul. During the post-World War I occupation of the city, Allied high commissioners became responsible for restoring services to prevent what they considered an impending urban uprising. Suppressing recurring strikes, regulating consumer behavior, and procuring coal for the power station quickly became the duty and concern of the occupying forces.

This postwar moment provides a rich record of the material relationships that remade the political-economic determinants of the emerging nationalistic order. The company’s history also reveals how European and Ottoman capitalists grappled with the realities of an increasingly fragmented global system, as their investments faced sequestration by Allied countries and later nationalization by Turkish authorities. By tracing these technical and political networks, my presentation explores the transition from an international, cosmopolitan order to an increasingly nationalized one in the wake of war and revolution, in which European and Ottoman notions of citizenship were renegotiated and reshaped.


Sciences Po, CHSP/CEE , Paris, France

The European Electricity Consumer in the Making:
The national letter against the admitted European spirit or the ambivalent end of a long electricity pricing odyssey.

EU countries according to their average kWh price (in FF), 1997-1998.  Source : EDF, Vie électrique, n°303, 1998Re-thinking (and re-moulding) domestic electricity end-uses will be crucial to keep global warming at the 1.5° Celsius threshold the international community has embraced with the Paris Agreement in 2015.
But while the sociological discipline – and particularly British and French pioneers of practice theory – has shown growing interest in studying domestic electricity consumption patterns and practices in recent years, the historic discipline has not yet dedicated much effort to the comparative assessment of how domestic electricity consumption standards “stabilised into being” during the outgoing 20th century, though some very good sporadic national accounts – still mostly based on business archive sources – do now exist for at least some (Western) countries.

This presentation proposes to close this research gap by presenting the findings of one of the sections of my PhD thesis that aimed at a historical reconstruction of the now dominating (and still generally unchallenged) domestic electricity consumer narratives, covering the – at the times of writing – three biggest EU Member States for the period 1973 to 2009. By mobilising archive sources of both international organisations and consumer testing bodies, my presentation will, more specifically, explore to what extent different conceptions about electricity pricing and tariff design(s) – as well as their legitimation by consumer representatives – contributed to forging European electricity consumers, as we usually take them for granted today, into being.


Sciences Po, Centre d’histoire (CHSP) , Paris, France



Giacomo Parrinello, Sciences Po, Centre d'histoire

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