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The British technological crusade to post-Crimean Turkey: electric telegraphy, railways, naval shipbuilding and armament technologies

Bektas, M. Yakup (1995) The British technological crusade to post-Crimean Turkey: electric telegraphy, railways, naval shipbuilding and armament technologies. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86073) (KAR id:86073)


In this thesis I examine the introduction of technological systems -telegraphy, railways, naval shipbuilding and armaments- from Britain to post-Crimean Ottoman-Turkey, which had constituted a largely closed environment to European culture and technologies until the nineteenth century. I illustrate how the process was contingent upon the historical, cultural and geographical contexts of Britain and Turkey within the wider European power structure in the nineteenth century. Through its industrial enterprises, presented as a politically "peaceful solution" to the Eastern Question, Britain hoped to control the declining Ottoman Empire and to further its cultural and economic expansion.

In Chapter One I characterise the flow of technologies to Turkey as the British technological crusade with reference to its range and cultural implications. I further examine how a traditional Islamic culture could develop an intellectual framework to accommodate and justify a technology which was originally thought to be of an "infidel" character. I argue that the military channel was the nucleus of Ottoman Europeanisation and its opening to the West. The military institutions, together with the Sultan's authority and sanction, formed the main agency for the legitimation of Western technology. Chapters Two, Three and Four examine the introduction by British engineers and enterprises of communication technologies, telegraphy and railways, to Asia Minor, which provided a junction and the shortest route to India and Central Asia.

Chapters Five, Six and Seven present the efforts of the British government and entrepreneurs to introduce European naval shipbuilding and armament technologies to the Ottoman Empire. The British naval mission to Turkey began in the early nineteenth century originally as an important measure against Russian expansion to the Bosphorus and the Mediterranean to strengthen Ottoman naval defences by offering skilled officers and machinery. The mission, which continued until WW1, became an essential part of the wider British imperial policy in the East and industrial expansion overseas. British companies including Napiers, Armstrongs and Vickers, expanding their enterprises overseas as a part of British imperial expansions, introduced to the Ottoman navy both naval machinery and its complementary features, technical instruction and infrastructure for their operation and maintenance. Finally, Chapter Eight emphasizes the close connection between Western technological systems and their wider Western cultural environments, such as industrial, educational, financial and legislative institutions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86073
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Turkey; Great Britain; Technology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D203 Modern History, 1453-
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:27 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2022 07:41 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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