Reflections on Oral History: Four Cities on the Social History of Telephone Technology in Turkey

Author(s) Burçe Çelik, Derya Gurses Tarbuck
Contact Burçe Çelik, Bahçeşehir University, 34353 Beşiktaş, Istanbul, Turkey. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 8, Iss. 2, 2014, pp. 72-88
Published November 10, 2014
Type Comment
Abstract Throughout the history of the Turkish Republic, the telephone has collectively been perceived as a technology of modernity, progress, wealth and cultural capital. Yet due to a deteriorated infrastructure, which has hindered penetration of the telephone to the entire country, only a small segment of society was able to install a telephone in their private dwellings as well as in their place of business. This article discusses the results of an oral history research, based on in-depth interviews with telephone users (and non-users) in Istanbul, Ankara, Kayseri and Diyarbakir, conducted during 2011–2012. Essentially, this article argues, that technology transfer does not necessarily translate itself into modes of social life as modernity, at least not uniformly so. On the contrary, our oral history study displays a variety of “modernities”, which existed side by side.
Keywords identity, public sphere, information and communication technology, mobile phones, Turkey, communication studies, Kurds