chapter  11
Migration, Turkey and Turks
Pages 13

Migration has been part of the human experience for centuries. The attachment of nomadic peoples in particular to specific and defined territorialities is weak or absent, but opportunity, conflict and need have encouraged millions of people to migrate, as individuals or as whole communities. The Turkic peoples offer one of the prime examples of the phenomenon, but many other examples abound. For example, the origin of the Hungarian or Magyar people is much disputed and dates from a distant historical epoch, but most agree that it is to be found in semi-nomadic tribes from the Ural Mountains or even from central Asia. More formal empires have frequently deposited peoples far from their original homelands. The decline of the Roman empire did not necessarily entail the departure of its soldiers and administrators – many of whom did not, in any case, hail from the Italian peninsula – from its imperial outposts. A wonderful example is afforded by the Iazgyians, an Iranian-speaking Black Sea people, 5500 of whom were shipped by the Romans to northern Britain to serve as horsemen. They stayed after the empire collapsed, and settled in the Preston area of western Lancashire (Ascherson 1996: 236-37). More familiar residues of imperial expansion are the Russians of eastern Siberia, Hispanics throughout the Americas, and people of British stock in southern Africa, north America and Australasia. Viking warriors and mercenaries from Scandinavia settled in the British Isles, in Normandy in France, in Iceland and Greenland, deep into Russia, eastern Europe and elsewhere. The history of the Jewish people is largely one of migration. Chinese communities are scattered throughout the world’s cities. Africans suffered forced migration, and were transported as slaves to the Caribbean and throughout north and south America. Throughout history, there have been millions of individual migrant stories, through marriage for example, or as seamen, traders and the like. Many settled in locations in which they were initially transient. Societies such as those of the USA, Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand have been composed almost entirely of migrants. Notwithstanding the long and rich history of human migration, it is

nevertheless commonly perceived as a defining feature of modern-day

globalization. Part of the explanation is offered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), established in 1951 and itself an institutional expression of globalization: ‘Migration is considered one of the defining global issues of the early

twenty first century, as more and more people are on the move today than at any other point in human history. There are now about 192 million people living outside their place of birth, which is about three per cent of the world’s population. This means that roughly one of every thirty five persons in the world is a migrant. Between 1965 and 1990, the number of international migrants increased by 45 million – an annual growth rate of about 2.1 percent. The current annual growth rate is about 2.9 percent.’1