Ulug Kuzuoglu

Student, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Columbia University

Heyman Center Fellow (Graduate Student) 2016 - 17

Project Description:

Ulug Kuzuoglu’s dissertation explores the global history of Chinese script reforms from the 1890s to the 1980s. During this period, Chinese intellectuals identified the Chinese logographic writing system as the primary reason for backwardness, and re-engineered the Chinese script to fit the demands of the modern information age. Kuzuoglu argues that Chinese script reform was part of a global history of knowledge economy, in which the management and optimization of clerical and mental labor through innovations in writing technologies were key concerns for modernizing economies. Examining Chinese as well as Russian, American, and Turkic scientists who were instrumental in giving a final shape to the Chinese script, his dissertation interrogates the historical interface between humans and information technologies. During his tenure as a Heyman Center Fellow, he was able to draft two more dissertation chapters, titled "Late-Qing Singularity: Telegraphic Wires, Phonetic Scripts, and Cerebral Consciousness in China" and "Alphabet Democracy? Vernacular Activisms and Phonetic Alphabets." With these chapters, he completed the first full draft of his dissertation. Kuzuoglu writes, “Apart from the wonderful feedback I received, I was intrigued to read about research projects --from sixteenth-century British choreographies to twentieth-century German street names-- that are well beyond my field of expertise. These projects and the methodologies employed in them were truly inspiring, and I am looking forward to incorporating them into my future research.”

Ulug Kuzuoglu received his BA in Sociology and MA in History from Bogazici University, Istanbul. He spent a year in Hunan and half a year in Shanghai where he conducted research for his master's degree. His MA Thesis "Xinjiang Between the Globes: The Ottomans in the Making of Modern Xinjiang (1870-1934)" focuses on the interaction between the Ottomans, Uyghurs and Chinese at the turn of the century, and how this triangular relationship influenced the local and national policies concerning Xinjiang. His current research interests lie in the Ottoman Empire, Central Asia, and China.