Between 1885 and 1915, roughly eighty thousand Armenians migrated between the Ottoman Empire and North America. For much of this period, Ottoman state authorities viewed Armenian migrants, particularly those who returned to the empire after sojourns abroad, as a political threat to the empire’s security. In response, Istanbul worked vigorously to prevent Armenians both from migrating to and returning from North America. In response dense smuggling networks emerged to assist migrants in bypassing this migration ban. The dynamics that shaped the evolution of these networks resemble those that drive the phenomenon of migrant smuggling in the present day. Furthermore, as this talk will discuss, migrants who returned home found themselves stuck in an uneasy legal limbo as both Ottoman and United States governments disavowed them as citizens, leaving them vulnerable to deportation from their own ancestral lands. As this talk contends, the Armenian migratory experience in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries both parallels and sheds light on themes such as smuggling, deportation, and the criminalization of migration, that are central to the issue of global migration in the 21st century.
David Gutman is Associate Professor of History at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. The Politics of Armenian Migration to North America, 1885-1915 is his first book. He has also published several articles and reviews on migration, mobility control, and the historiography of the Armenian genocide.
Questions? Email Prof. Khatchig Mouradian at email@example.com