The routes of migration in the "Long" twentieth century form passages through which not only people have changed their location, but also the material and immaterial goods which they have taken with them. In policy-making circles today, representations of migration can freeze positive memories of that which needs preservation or melancholic memories of often dramatic, multiple levels of migration experience taking place in a distant world. In an attempt to advocate greater sensitivity to these various experiences in one migratory story, Isa Blumi (Stockholm University) proposes to bring historic perspective.
As much as contemporary refugees face various contrasting stages of migration, the same prove true of the case for tens of millions of people from the Ottoman Empire. These Greek, Albanian, South Slav, Arab, and Armenian Muslims, Jews, and Christians were jettisoned from their Ottoman homelands to a world in the throes of structural change impacted by the demand for cheap raw materials, labor, and finance. In ways shared with present-day migrants, Ottoman migrants’ global trajectories often contributed to new regimes of exploitation both in the homelands they left and the new ones in which they settled. The variable waves of migration subjects of the era that saw a transition from competing empires to competing corporations constitute a flurry of transformative experiences that have left their imprint well into the Cold War era.
It is time to consider what can be salvaged from these events and analyze them in critically new ways. As this lecture proposes, such references to historic examples of global migration can challenge our current fixations with migrations to Europe, helping us as policy makers or academics to shift focus and offer a more adaptive, reflective, and accommodating account of migrants going through multiple stages of experience prior to, and upon arriving in Europe.
About the speaker
Isa Blumi (Stockholm University) researches societies in the throes of social, economic, and political transformation. He compares how Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Italian, British, Dutch, Spanish, and French imperialist projects in the Islamic world intersected with, and were thus informed by, events within the Ottoman Empire. His latest work covers the late Ottoman period and successor regimes, arguing that events in the Balkans and Middle East are the engines of change in the larger world. In this respect, he explores in a comparative, integrated manner how (post-)Ottoman societies found in, for instance, Albania/Yugoslavia, Turkey, the Gulf, and Yemen fit into what is a global story of transition. This in turn informs the story of the Atlantic world, especially the emergence of modern European imperialism and the Americas. His research into migration as a primary lens to understand such processes have resulted in numerous articles and the book: Ottoman Refugees, 1878-1939: Migration in a Post-Imperial World. (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013).