chapter  10
13 Pages

Immigration into the Ottoman territory: The case of Salonica in the late nineteenth century


The aim of this chapter is to trace immigration into Ottoman territory using the case of Salonica in the aftermath of the 1878 Ottoman-Russian War. What was the nature of immigration regulations? What happened in practice? Who was in charge of settling and taking care of the immigrants? How did the local administration and its different departments deal with this issue? How did local people contribute and react to settling the immigrants? What kinds of problems arose with regard to this issue between central and local government? Where and how were the immigrants settled? The Ottoman Empire underwent drastic changes as a result of mass immigration,

especially after the wars of the second half of the nineteenth century. The Ottoman state had to undertake the difficult task of organising transportation for the immigrants, dealing with their health problems, redistribution and settlement. Although some previous studies have dealt with the general schemes of immigration in the Ottoman Empire,1 with regulations,2 and, finally, with the central commissions that were established to deal with the immigrants,3 the local administration of immigration has not yet been studied comprehensively.4 One needs therefore to concentrate on the local level and especially on the local administration of the immigration process. Furthermore, the current immigration historiography for the Ottoman Empire

has concentrated almost exclusively on the immigration of people of Muslim origin; and so one of the most important characteristics of these studies is a lack of interest in non-Muslim immigrants. Such studies generally focus on the arrival and problems of Muslim immigrants and ignore the settlement, for example, of Russian and Romanian Jews in the Ottoman Empire. An exception to this trend is the work of Kemal Karpat, who focuses on Jewish migration and on how the Ottoman government dealt with the situation.5 His main interest is the migration of Jews from the Balkans to Anatolia and Syria after 1877-8 and the Ottoman settlement policies. Another exception is the work of Meropi Anastassiadou, who, in her study of the immigration of Muslims and non-Muslims, devotes a section to the city of Salonica in the context of the population boom in this city in the second half of the nineteenth century.6