The Iran Society, founded in 1935

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Sebastian Rose: The Indo-European Telegraph Department in Iran: Radical technology of change?

November 1, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

From 1865, the Indo-European Telegraph Department (IETD) and its network formed a vital link between London and India. Initially constructed for imperial security, the IETD network played a transformative role in connecting empires, cultures and peoples across the British empire and beyond. But what was the telegraph network’s impact on Iran? And how was it used by local populations? Focusing on the tumultuous city of Shiraz in the 1890s, this presentation examines the diverse uses of IETD telegraph infrastructure by local communities. It ponders the impact of the IETD network in Iran and argues that the telegraph was not merely a ‘tool of empire’ but also a space where unintended users sought refuge, voiced demands, and formed identities.

Sebastian Rose is a PhD candidate at Greenwich University. His current research focuses on a history of the telegraph and the role of the Indo-European Telegraph Department. His interests lie in connecting remote telegraph stations on the frontier of Britain’s Indian empire, to larger terrestrial and maritime trans-imperial and trans-regional networks. In particular, he is interested in analysing the agency and impact of local actors and ecologies in shaping and being shaped by telegraph infrastructure in Iran, the Gulf and the wider Indian Ocean world. Sebastian’s research also focuses on the political role of ‘technical experts’, analysing labour and work and its imprint upon the body, and the divergent systems and technologies of communication that functioned alongside telegraphy.


November 1, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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The Iran Society
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