SUMMARY:This panel explores the spatial, material, and linguistic border-making practices and subjecthoods of three ethnolinguistic minority communities in the Middle East while scrutinizing the bordering attempts of respective local and national authorities. Three panelists specializing in Ottoman Armenians, Modern Turkish Sephardim, and Egyptian Amazigh problematize issues related to the varying membership, identity, and citizenship systems of mobile subjects. On the one hand, the papers in this panel converge on the themes of space and materiality; how they are utilized by governments as tools to regulate and manage people. On the other hand, the analyses trace the ways in which minorities navigate and contest these systems of rule and categorisation patterns. Panelists trace the social lives of documents such as photographs, denaturalization records, birth certificates, while showing gendered and racialized ways in which these material objects appear. Through ethnographic and archival lenses, this panel investigates multiple governmental enforcements and reproductions of bureaucratic, linguistic and spatial borders.
The first paper examines the obstacles the Ottoman government put against Armenian circular mobility between 1896-1908. It investigates how the production, distribution and archiving of photographs and denaturalization records contributed to engineering a new kind of emigration database to keep Armenians from reclaiming their subjecthood or returning to the empire. The second paper traces shifting rules for the gendered mobility of Siwans in Egypt’s Western Desert. It examines local alongside national patterns for the regulation of movement, that categorise individuals by gender, nationality, and ethnicity, as well as temporal and generational dimensions. Last but not least, the third paper focalizes the cultural and linguistic border-making practices through Sephardi Citizenship Law in Spain, and shows how Sephardim of Turkey navigates those cultural borders. Overall, the panelists investigate documenting technologies, spatial control, and law to analyze how states govern their borders while defining and controlling their populations.