Migrants in the Late Ottoman Empire

Episode 331

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Though it is often ignored among the many histories of the great migrations of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire experienced the arrival of millions of migrants over the course of its last decades. The migrant or muhacir was therefore not just a critical demographic component of both Ottoman cities and the countryside but also part of and subject to different political projects associated with the empire's transformation. In this conversation with Ella Fratantuono, we offer an introduction to the history of migration in the late Ottoman Empire and seek to understand the muhacir as a legal, administrative, and conceptual figure in Ottoman society.

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Contributor Bios

Ella Fratantuono is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research focuses on migration and settlement policies in the late Ottoman Empire.
Chris Gratien is Assistant Professor of History at University of Virginia, where he teaches classes on global environmental history and the Middle East. He is currently preparing a monograph about the environmental history of the Cilicia region of the former Ottoman Empire from the 1850s until the 1950s.
Seçil Yılmaz received her PhD degree in History from the Graduate Center, CUNY with her dissertation entitled “Love in the Time of Syphilis: Medicine and Sex in the Ottoman Empire, 1860-1922.” She is currently a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at the Society for the Humanities and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University.

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Episode No. 331
Release Date: 1 September 2017
Recording Location: Okmeydanı, Istanbul
Audio editing by Chris Gratien
Music: from archive.org - Harmandali - Recep Efendi, Cemal Efendi; Baglamamin Dugumu - Necmiye Ararat and Muzaffer
Special thanks to Kara Günes for permission to use the composition "Istanbul" and Muhtelif for "Bint El Shalabiya"
Bibliography courtesy of Ella Fratantuono

Class Activity

This episode comes with a class activity documentary regimes for migrants in the Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East prepared by our guest Ella Fratantuono. Download the PDF here.

Select Bibliography

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Chatty, Dawn. Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Cuthell, David Cameron. “The Muhacirin Komisyonu: An Agent in the Transformation of Ottoman Anatolia, 1860-1866.” PhD Diss. Columbia University, 2005.

İpek, Nedim. Rümeli’den Anadolu’ya Türk Göçleri (1877-1890). Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, 1994.

Kale, Başak. “Transforming an Empire: The Ottoman Empire’s Immigration and Settlement Policies in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Middle Eastern Studies 50.2 (2014): 252-271.

Karpat, Kemal. Ottoman Population, 1830-1914: Demographic and Social Characteristics. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

Kasaba, Reşat. A Moveable Empire Ottoman Nomads, Migrants, and Refugees. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009.

Meyer, James. Turks Across Empires: Marketing Muslim Identity in the Russian-Ottoman Borderlands, 1856-1914. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Nail, Thomas. The Figure of the Migrant. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015.

Özel, Oktay. “Migration and Power Politics: The Settlement of Georgian Immigrants in Turkey (1878-1908).” Middle East Studies 46.4 (2010): 477-496.

Saydam, Abdullah. Kırım ve Kafkas Göçleri (1856-1876). Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, 1997.

Scalettaris, Giulia. “Refugee Studies and the International Refugee Regime: A Reflection on a Desirable Separation.” Refugee Survey Quarterly 26.3 (2007): 36-50.

Williams, Brian Glynn. “Hijra and Forced Migration from Nineteenth-Century Russia to the Ottoman Empire: A Critical Analysis of the Great Crimean Tatar Emigration of 1860-1861. Cahiers du Monde Russe 41.1 (2000): 79-108.

Zetter, Roger. “Labelling Refugees: Forming and Transforming a Bureaucratic Identity.” Journal of Refugee Studies 4.1 (1991): 39-63.


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