Elvan is a historian of the built environment and currently serves as a Spatial Humanities Fellow in Levantine Studies at the Humanities Research Center, Rice University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong. In her work, Elvan explores how space is produced, transformed, and practiced through the implementation of large-scale infrastructural projects, especially in the Ottoman Empire. In addition, Elvan engages in multiple archaeological field projects in Armenia, Laos, and Turkey.
「 Steaming Through Ancient Lands: Comparative Tourist Mobilities in Western Anatolia and Southern Mesopotamia 」
The Persian Royal Road, one of the major infrastructural productions of the ancient world, connected the city of Susa with Sardis in the mid-first millennium BCE, effectively linking the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean to the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean. This route proved significant intermittently throughout history, notably when both ends of the route, in western Anatolia and southern Mesopotamia, received infrastructural investments during the second half of the 19th century CE, in the context of European colonial ambitions. Produced under concessions given to British companies, these infrastructural projects, railways in Anatolia and steamboats in Mesopotamia, generated accelerated mobilities through Ottoman lands. While the political and economic motivations of Ottoman and British bureaucrats and entrepreneurs in promoting and enabling such mobilities coalesced and diverged situationally, such infrastructural interventions had spatial consequences, affecting the modes of interaction with these landscapes. Juxtaposing steamboat navigation through southern Mesopotamia and railway travel in western Anatolia with the emergent practices of tourism and archaeology that revolved around ancient sites in these two regions, this presentation explores shifting mobilities through these landscapes within a comparative framework.