Panel 5G

Movement and Migration in the Ottoman Empire II

11.30 – 13.30

Chair: Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky, Stanford University

Religion and Rebellion: A Study of Political Movements in 17th Century Istanbul

Ali Danis Neyzi, SOAS

My project is an overall analysis of the understandings and interpretations of religion within Ottoman historiography. My case studies are the political movements that have taken place in Istanbul and Edirne during the early modern period, including Janissary rebellions, political participations of the ulema class and the Kad?zadeli movement. Examining primary documents from 17th century, such as Janissary ballads, autobiographies and Ottoman historians from the early modern era, I attempt to understand how they thought about religion’s place within political events. Do they consider religion a primary or secondary factor in political incidents? Is religion a political motivation for them? What’s the relationship between early modern Ottoman citizenship and religion? This project is a continuation of my undergraduate thesis, in which I have done preliminary research on 17th century rebellions, became well-versed in secondary literature in Ottoman history, focused specifically on the 1703 Edirne Incident and concluded with six proposals for further research. I hope to submit this project as my M.A. dissertation at SOAS. Within this process, I am aiming to summarize the results of this two-year-long project in an article. This will be the article I would submit for this conference, and I hope to get it published, perhaps in the Journal of Ottoman Studies, or IJMES. In short, this conference would fit perfectly within my goals for next year, and be a perfect opportunity to receive feedback from peers and professors, practice and solidify the arguments.

Download Paper (Neyzi)

Bonkowski Pasha’s Suggestions and Measures Regarding the Cholera Case in Syria, Lebanon and Jerusalem in 1892

Levent Kucuk, University of Ardahan

The revolution that the steam power brought in transportation and the mobility of the communities via transportation masses accelerated the spread of the outbreaks from one place to the other. This situation required international cooperation to prevent the spread of epidemic diseases. The method of modern disinfection in the Ottoman Empire was first introduced by Mr. Bonkowski (1841-1905), a member of the “Tathirat Commission” established by the Quarantine Administration in 1885. Mr. Bonkowski, who proposed to establish a “Center for Disease Control (CDC)” in the existing quarantine station, was renewed a few years later by giving a pamphlet to Sadaret when some cholera cases were seen in Istanbul.  By analyzing Bonkowski Pasha’s reports, the health director of the period in the Ottoman archives, the study will review the records of the cholera epidemic in the region as well as revealing the social, economic and demographic disinformation of the population.

Paper Syrians: Passport Fraud in the Syrian American Mahjar during the First World War

Stacy Fahrenthold, California State University

In July 1919, the United States Bureau of Investigation discovered a group of Turkish-speaking Kurds boarding a steamship destined for Diyarbakir. The men’s passports listed them as Syrians travelling under French diplomatic protection, but when a port agent greeted them in Arabic they spat at him, “we are not Arabs, but Turks!” Their documents turned out to be fraudulent and in violation of U.S. laws forbidding the departure of all “non-Syrian” Ottoman subjects until the conclusion of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Police arrested a network of Ottoman nationals working under smuggler James Fay; Fay had profited enormously by producing fake passports reinventing Ottoman Turks and Kurds as “Syrians” for purposes of permanent repatriation. Using FBI casefiles on the creation of ‘paper Syrians,’ this paper examines the history of the Syrian exemption from wartime laws governing the travel rights of Ottoman nationals. ‘Syrian’ emerged as a U.S. legal category during the war and was strongly connoted with Arabic-speaking Christians. But passport fraud investigations demonstrate that ‘Syrian’ took on national-origins characteristics linked to American understandings of Middle Eastern geography. U.S. law maintained a hierarchy dictating which Ottoman subjects were free to travel: Syrians were permitted but Turks, Kurds, and Ottoman Greeks were not. These standards emerged before the actual borders separating Turkey were formally settled. The 1919 Fay case illustrates the power of documentary regimes to impose nationality on migrants, and migrants’ struggle to recognize themselves in a system which conflated language, race, and geography in incoherent ways.

The Syrian Ismailis under Sultan Abdülmecid I: A Voyage to Salamiyya- Majidabad

Ula Zeir, The University of Edinburgh, The British Library

Throughout history, the Syrian Ismailis had occupied different areas for settlement in Syria, transferring themselves from time to time in accordance to their relationship with the ruling power in the country. One such a change of settlement was made in the mid nineteenth century when a group of Syrian Ismailis migrated from the mountainous region in Syria to the city of Salamiyya encouraged by a farman that had been approved by Sultan Abdülmecid I. The farman granted the Ismailis the right to reside in Salamiyya. While all previous academic accounts on the story of the Syrian Ismailis’ migration to Salamiyya are based on an alleged translated copy of the farman which has first appeared in a book by Mahmud Amin, a local Syrian Ismaili historian, this paper will be based on the original copy of that farman found at the Ottoman Archive in Istanbul. Reading through such document will take us right back to the mid nineteenth century to explore the circumstances under which the Syrian Ismailis made their journey to Salamiyya. Seeing that the area of Salamiyya was not less troublesome than the mountainous region at the time, the paper will answer the question on why did the Syrian Ismailis decide to migrate there? Hence, the paper will show the significance of Sultan Abdülmecid I’s farman and the impact it had on the transformation of the life of the community.