[P4831] Circulation and Migration: Armenian Migrants in the Ottoman Empire and Beyond

Created by Dzovinar Derderian
Tuesday, 11/21/17 8:00am


Migration has been a constant process throughout Ottoman history. Most scholars, however, have examined the effects of migration on the migrants' destination or host city. Our panel primarily seeks to examine migration as a circular process rather than a unidirectional one. As such it aims to offer a different understanding of connectivity and transnational mobility of merchants, students and labor migrants in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the Middle East and between the Middle East and the New World. Approaching the process of migration through the framework of circulation allows us to reveal simultaneous transformations in disparate locales. At the same time, circulation as an analytical framework allows us to transgress the pre-existing hierarchies and categories of state, ethno-confessional community and spaces (i.e., provincial, central and Western).

By focusing on circulation of ideas, goods and people through migrant and immigrant networks, the panel aims to trace how migration impacted not only the migrants and their host destinations but also their communities at home and the networks they formed empire-wide and abroad. The panelists will focus on Ottoman Armenian migrants, who in the 1800s and 1900s moved to Istanbul and the United States from the Ottoman eastern provinces as short and long-term labor migrants. The panelists will take migrants and migration as a means to connect the local to the imperial and the trans-national. Migrants allow us to remove the provinces from the insular ways in which they have been studied, and connect them to the rest of the empire and the broader world, not through the state but through the social and cultural processes for which the migrants stand as lenses of the historian. Furthermore, they help us to step outside of the parameters of the millet system, which has dominated the scholarship on Ottoman Armenians, and instead examine migration and migrants as agents of social, political and cultural change empire-wide.

Using Armenian and Ottoman archival sources, visual culture (i.e. paintings and photography), as well as literary sources from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this multidisciplinary panel speaks to themes of belonging, longing and networks. The panelists will examine compatriotic cultural, social and economic associations created by migrants of specific locales, compatriotic political mobilizations in Istanbul that affected local politics in the provinces, and migration that shaped the representation of the provinces and the experiences of those who traveled from the provinces to Istanbul.


Art/Art Hist; Hist




Houri Berberian

(University of California, Irvine)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Discussant;

Yasar Tolga Cora

(Bogazici University, Istanbul)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Vazken Khatchig Davidian

(Birkbeck, University of London)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Dzovinar Derderian

(University of Michigan)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

David Low

(University of Michigan)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;