Princesses Versus Maids: Domesticating Electricity in the Early Republican Period in Turkey
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This article is concerned with the question of how electricity was introduced into the home in Turkey during a period when electrification of the country ran in parallel with the establishment of the new republic. Republican discourses of modernization and progress attributed electricity a symbolic transformative power. Yet, the robust power of electricity had to be domesticated before it was introduced into the homes to comply with the ideal of modern home. Visual representations of electricity constituted a crucial step in this process of domestication. To figure out the visual strategies of domestication the study focuses on the representations of electricity produced by prominent mediators of domestic electricity during the period. These include the bi-monthly publication of Istanbul's electric providerSociete Anonyme d'Installations Electriques(SATIE) namedAmeli Elektrikand prominent women's and family magazines of the period, which areYedigunandEv-Is. Dwelling on advertisement images, cover illustrations and promotional pieces, this article identifies two main visual strategies of domestication, namely mythification and anthropomorphization. Throughout the text it is argued that visual representations of electricity for residential users undermined the quasi-neutral definition of electricity as a modern power and rather worked to frame electricity as a means of distinction and pictured a pretentious modernity.