Mehmet Yerçil / European Interest in Eskişehir and its Meerschaum Industry in the Nineteenth Century

An abstract of the thesis of Mehmet Yerçil for the degree of Master of Arts from the Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History to be taken July 2004

European Interest in Eskişehir and its Meerschaum Industry in the Nineteenth Century

The main argument of this thesis is that Eskisehir of the nineteenth century was a subject of the orientalist discourse, which paved the way to its being molded by the “West,” facilitating both intentionally and unintentionally commercial pursuits benefiting the “West,” as in the concrete example of the city’s meerschaum extraction and trade. The dominating effect of orientalism on the city of Eskisehir is analyzed in cultural, textual, and economic terms. The main sources of the thesis are orientalist accounts by European travelers and the orientalist periodicals of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The thesis provides a critical reading of these orientalist sources, and attention is drawn to the political qualities and consequences of seemingly impartial orientalist accounts on the city and its surroundings. The orientalists who wrote on Eskisehir are periodized in the chronological categories of pre-modern, mid-nineteenth century modern, and post-1870 modern orientalism. In this way, a description of the role and place of each orientalist in the historical evolution of orientalism is provided. The analysis of the meerschaum extraction and trade of Eskisehir with Austria-Hungary serves as a case study on orientalism’s close connection with colonial imperialism in the late nineteenth century. Thus, imperialism is defined in connection with orientalism. The significant price markups on meerschaum, indicating the highly probable existence of large profits of both Austria-Hungary and the merchants of Eskisehir, are pointed out from a perspective of imperialism.

Temmuz 2004 için öngörülen, Atatürk Enstitüsü Modern Türkiye Tarihi Yüksek Lisans derecesi için Mehmet Yerçil tarafindan hazirlanmis tezin özeti

19. Yüzyılda Avrupa'nın Eskişehir ve Eskişehir'in Lületaşı Sanayisine Olan İlgisi

Tezin baslica savunusu Eskisehir’in 19. yüzyilda oryantalist diskurun bir konusunu olusturdugu, bunun Eskisehir’in “Bati” için yine “Bati” tarafindan sekillendirilmesinde rol oynadigi, “Bati”nin kendisini kazançli çikarmayi hedef alan ticari kovalamalarinin yine bu oryantalist diskurdan yararlanarak Eskisehir’in lületasi ticaretinde kendisini gösterdigidir. Oryantalizmin Eskisehir üzerindeki baskici etkisi, kültürel, metinsel ve ekonomik açilardan analiz edilmistir. Tezin baslica kaynaklarini Avrupali gezginlerin sehir ve çevresi hakkinda yazdiklariyla, Avusturya-Macaristan Imparatorlugu’nun oryantalist dergileri olusturmaktadir. Tez bu kaynaklarin kritik bir okumasini sunmakta, ve dikkati tarafsiz gibi görünen bu yazilarin politik özellik ve sonuçlarina odaklamaktadir. Eskisehir üzerine yazan oryantalistler, modern öncesi oryantalizm, 19. yüzyil ortasi modern oryantalizm ve 1870 sonrasi modern oryantalizm peryodlamasina tabi tutulmus, aradaki farklar ve ortak noktalar oryantalizmin tarihsel gelisimi açisindan ele alinmistir. Tezde, Eskisehir’in Avusturya-Macaristan ile arasindaki lületasi ticareti, oryantalizmin sömürgeci emperyalizm ile 19. yüzyil son çeyregindeki yakin ilgisi hakkinda bir örnek görevi görmektedir. Tezde emperyalizmin tanimi oryantalizm ile olan bu iliskisi baglaminda yapilmis ve gerek Avusturya Macaristan’in gerekse Eskisehir lületasi tacirlerinin yüksek gelirlerine emperyalizmin bu tanimi bazinda dikkat çekilmistir.