Panel 4G

Movement and Migration in the Ottoman Empire I

9.00 – 11.00
Chair: Stacy Fahrenthold, California State University

Reading ‘Old’ Istanbul in “Greek”: An Intellectual Network and its Impact on the Urban Context of 19th ct. Istanbul

Firuzan Melik Sümertas, Boagziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey

This paper aims to focus on the research conducted and the literature produced by the Ottoman-Greek intellectuals on the urban history of 19th century Ottoman Istanbul. Namely, it will focus on the Greek Literary Society and the intellectual network around. Being established in 1861, effective until 1922 and accompanied with an annual journal, the Sillogos was almost the most enduring and productive society of Ottoman intellectual milieu. Although it was founded by a small group of Ottoman-Greek intellectuals, mostly doctors, the Sillogos very quickly drove the attention of many other intellectuals, either from different communities of Istanbul, (Muslim, Armenian etc.) or of European origin (German, British etc.). Formed as a “literary society”, major aim of the Sillogos was to enhance studies on Greek language and to empower the education of Greek youth within the Ottoman Empire. In accordance with their focus on the sustainability of the Greek culture as an integral part of their identity, members of the Sillogos  also conducted extensive research on the architectural and archaeological remnants of the Greek past within the Ottoman lands, from Antiquity to Byzantine periods, a significant part of which was on Istanbul, the capital city of Byzantine Empire. Within the scope of this paper, I will introduce some examples of this research and discuss the outcomes through its impact on the later Byzantine studies in the Ottoman intellectual milieu, as well as the approach of the Ottoman Administration towards the Byzantine heritage in Istanbul.

Sufi Orders as Agents of Mobility of Algerians in Ottoman Empire at the Age of Colonialism, 1871-1908

Salma Hargal Larhra Umr, University of Lumière Lyon 2

This paper deals with the role played by Sufi orders in the large-scale migration of Algerians towards Great Syria since the Moqrani revolt of 1871 in Algeria and the toppling of Abdulhamit II’s regime in 1908.    Since France undertook to control religious realm in Algeria, Sufi orders remain the major “local” framework for the sphere of faith and religiosity.  Plus, the intellectual revival and the structural shift that Sufism underwent by the advent of modernity, enables these orders to assume new social and political functions. Therefore, Sufi orders triggered many revolts against the French. As far as emigration is concerned, they often exhorted their adepts to flee towards the “the land of the Califat” for material and ideological purpose. Plus, they supervised these migrations and sometime confronted French restriction by smuggling migrants. The object of my focus are the Rahmaniyya, Qadiriyya and Khalwatiyya  Sufi orders which territorial realm includes Great Syria where the Zawyat al Maghariba and other lodges were a shelter of North African new comers. How the Sufi orders were involved in the migration process of Algerians towards the Ottoman Empire in late nineteenth century? My research draws upon a diverse set of archival material ranging from French Colonial and Diplomatic Archives and some heretofore unexamined Ottoman documents and also from Arab Sufi chiefs hagiographies.

A Transnational Refugee Family History: Circassian Social Networks Across the Ottoman Empire, 1890-1905

Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky, Stanford University, Department of History

This paper examines the migration of an upper class Circassian refugee (muhajir) family from the Russian Empire to the Ottoman state. Based on private correspondence in Ottoman Turkish, it traces the family’s mobility between western, southern, eastern, and central Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Transjordan. I assert that refugee networks formed an “alternative space” that existed parallel to imperial administrative and economic structures.

This paper utilizes several dozen private letters that members of one Circassian family exchanged between 1890 and 1905. I employ digital tools to spatialize this family’s social networks across the Ottoman Empire. This paper conceptualizes how the family perceived its space during its migration and resettlement and how the mobility of its members affected its relations with other refugee groups and the Ottoman state. In addition, this study examines the spatiality of refugee resettement in the Ottoman domains and theorizes how Muslim refugees understood their place in their new empire and the “empire” itself.

The scholarship on late Ottoman refugee migration often privileges top-down relations between the state and refugees due to the prevalence of state-produced evidence. By drawing on documents produced by refugees themselves and in embracing cultural and spatial historical methodology, this paper constitutes a bottom-up history of refugee migration.

“Alexandria …Why?”: Syrian Migrants and the Burgeoning Arab Press in the 19th Century

Yasmin Shafei, American University of Beirut

As images of Syrian refugees dominate the discourse on Syria and its people, it is increasingly relevant to explore a different yet equally significant migration of Syrians in the nineteenth century. Under Khedive Ismail’s rule, and as part of his modernization of Egypt, Syrian intellectuals were encouraged to immigrate to Egypt to help develop its educational system. Although much has been written about the significant contributions of the Syrian intelligentsia to Egyptian education, culture, and most prominently, the press, nothing has been written about the role of the coastal city of Alexandria in this process. Rather than settle in Cairo, many Syrians established their journals in Alexandria, creating a vibrant press in the thriving cosmopolitan city. Syrian men like Adib Ishaq and Salim Al-Naqash founded their journals in Alexandria while the women’s press also saw its beginnings there, with the publication of Alexandra Avierino’s Anis al-Jalis and Hind Nawfal’s Al-Fatat. This paper will explore Alexandria as the key protagonist in the saga of Syrian immigration to Egypt in the nineteenth century. Taking Alexandria as a microcosm of the Arab Nahda, the study will analyse the particular cultural productions that took place, as well as the social and political movements they engendered. As Alexandria came centre stage in the development of the Arab press, the most important development in the Middle East during the latter half of the nineteenth century, the study explores both the impact of this movement of people and ideas as well as the city that embraced them.

Printing Press and the Limits of Boundaries: Ali Suavi’s Ulûm Gazettes

Kenan Tekin, Yalova University

With the rise of journals and newspapers, the Ottoman government became increasingly wary of the impact of printing press among its communities. Hence, gradually the state imposed regulations on the press and publications in order to contain spread of knowledge that it deemed hazardous to the fabric of its sovereignty. In line with the concerns of the state, many late Ottoman publications indicated and limited the subject matter of their periodicals in order to receive necessary permissions for publication. This entailed an ostensible exclusion of matters related to religion and politics from scientific journals. Therefore, I will point out that, such regulations were (per)formative in the separation of sciences, religions, and politics in the latter half of the nineteenth century. However, this was not the case for many journals published prior to such strict regulations and surveillance. Moreover, there were newspapers that avoided governmental control by publishing abroad. In this paper, I discuss Ali Suavi’s activities as a journalist and his periodical Ulûm Gazettes (Journal of Sciences), published in Paris in 1869-1870. Suavi’s biography and the journal manifest a movement of intellectuals and ideas between the late Ottoman Empire and Europe. It also shows the limits of government to control media in the modern period given the fact that the press and intellectuals can avoid it by moving around.


Charting Radical Currents in the Middle East at the turn of the 20th Century

Anthony Gorman, The University of Edinburgh

From the 1860s until the First World War increasing numbers of Europeans, especially from Italy and emerging Greece, migrated south to the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, some seeking economic opportunities and a better future for themselves, while others sought safe haven from the political repression they were experiencing in Europe, This movement of people and ideas saw the establishment and expansion of local foreign communities across the region and the emergence of a radical network of activists across the Mediterranean inspired by new ideas of reform and revolution of society, labour and culture.