A chapter in the modernization of Turkey: damming the rivers, claiming the natural landscape, and building of the Seyhan Dam in Cilicia


TURKISH STUDIES, vol.22, no.3, pp.380-409, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14683849.2020.1746651
  • Journal Name: TURKISH STUDIES
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Historical Abstracts, Index Islamicus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.380-409
  • Keywords: Dams, Seyhan Dam, modernization, development in Turkey, USA-Turkey relations, COLD-WAR, URBANIZATION, WATER
  • Abdullah Gül University Affiliated: Yes


This article examines building of the Seyhan Dam (1953-1956) in Turkey. Both Turkish and American agents played significant roles for planning and implementation of the project during the Cold War era. The 1950s provided necessary conditions in Turkey for the rise of new actors and developments to facilitate transition from limited modernity, which had mostly manifested in urban areas, to a more comprehensive state of modernity extended to rural areas. This extension had irrevocable impacts on the natural landscape as well. By referring to some patterns of modernization, this article posits building of the Seyhan Dam as a significant example to demonstrate how state-led modernization extended its scope by means of taming rivers and opening of plains for agriculture in the Cilician (cukurova) region from late Ottoman to Republican periods.