Istanbul 2040: Speculative Design, Apocalypse Theology, and neo-Ottoman Steampunk

I will be presenting my work on Neo-Ottoman Steampunk at SLSA (Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts) meeting at Tempe Arizona (9-12 November 2017).  This year’s conference theme is “Out of Time” and my contribution will be part of a panel that I organized on Speculative Design.

Here is the abstract of my talk:

“Speculative Design offers a critical bridge between theory and practice towards our post-human imaginaries when activated around a critical dystopian narrative. This paper will look at the ways speculative design can be used to engage with questions on alternative pasts and futures and design fictions in relation to the neo-Ottoman steampunk genre. Neo-Ottoman steampunk emerged in the second half of the 90s almost in synchrony with the neo-Ottomanist discourse of Turkish conservative political parties. Among other cultural registers, nostalgia around a particular type of imagined Ottoman past was most significantly expressed in various literary works of Ihsan Oktay Anar. In his Kitab-ul Hiyel, Anar told unfortunate adventures of an Ottoman engineer through a series of fictional design failures of irrigation machines, clocks and various war machines. Similar nostalgic and futuristic literary and visual imaginaries have become increasingly popular in the last 20 years that could collectively be named as ‘neo-Ottoman steampunk.’ Speculative design is an essential part of these works whose scope of imagination is projected towards Middle Eastern pasts as well as futures. I will talk about these peculiar neo-Ottoman steampunk designs through a conversation between media archaeology, critical dystopia, and apocalypse theology.”

November 9, 2017       2:00-3:30        MU 236, Mojave


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