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Migration and the making of urban modernity in the Ottoman Empire and beyond


Migration is as important and acute a topic for historians as it is for contemporaries. Indeed, a historical study of migration into cities and its management by urban institutions might hold some surprising and relevant insights into how people in earlier times dealt with one of the major issues of urban development, namely the movement of people and their diversity. Given the intricate link between urban growth and migration, this can be considered one of the central questions with regard to the historical study of cities. To discuss the topic historically – in our case with regard to mostly Mediterranean cities in the late nineteenth century – means to deal with a wide variety of questions. How and where did migrants settle in cities? How did migrants become integrated into the local labour market? Did they have access to urban property? How did migration affect the denominational/communal and ‘ethnic’ balance of certain quarters or even whole cities? How were migrants treated by urban institutions, i.e. what was their legal status, did they become citizens, did they have access to the sphere of government and could they exercise any rights? Finally, how was the identity of marginal migrants shaped by their precarious existence? This book addresses these questions with regard to the late Ottoman Empire in a

period of deep-rooted political and structural reforms and changes, which brought about new definitions of the individual and of society as a whole. The old system of urban governance was transformed; however, many of its features survived in the new model. Individuals from the elites like urban notables, but also simple citizens and newcomers had to position themselves in new ways and on different scales both within their cities and vis-à-vis the empire, which increasingly regulated the life of its subjects. To better understand the issues associated with migration, and notably urban governance and migration, has important ramifications for a more mature understanding of imperial governance in the Ottoman context. In many ways, the management of such a dynamic process as migration sheds an important light on the dynamism of governance or lack thereof in the Ottoman context. Developments linked to migration during the late Ottoman period also provide a key to understanding many post-Ottoman situations. A rich historiography of migration studies exists for the Ottoman Empire, but

it is mostly phenomenologically or regionally fractured. By contrast, this book brings together migration studies featuring cities of all parts of the Ottoman

Empire as well as from regions that were in contact with it, thus achieving an empire-wide perspective without isolating the Ottoman world from a broader context. It analyses a variety of migratory phenomena, such as the large number of Muslim refugees fleeing the loss of the Southeast European provinces of the Ottoman Empire, East Europeans seeking refuge from anti-Semitism, itinerant labourers, urbanisation fed by the influx from rural areas, state-induced transfers of administrative elites and pilgrims turned settlers. These multi-faceted inquiries follow a common agenda by focusing on the city as

thoroughfare and/or destination of all these movements, and by collectively addressing the question of the governance of migratory processes. They try to build a methodological and interpretative link between the social sphere and the institutional one. As the case studies illustrate, central, provincial and urban institutions all played a role in attempting to regulate movements; however, several studies also highlight the agency both of the migrants and of the established population. The overall aim is to read migrations in a dynamic way in which the attention to the condition of migrants is in return an attention to the structure of society. In her introductory chapter, “The Ottoman urban governance of migrations and

the stakes of modernity’, Nora Lafi examines both the historiographical stakes linked to the study of Ottoman migrations and the influence the influx of migrants had on urban institutions from the end of the old regime period to the era of reforms, the Tanzimat. It is the main task of this chapter to situate the following chapters in the framework of the different streams of historical migration studies and studies on urban history introducing many of the research questions also at the outset of this volume. Research on Ottoman cities and migration has to enter into a dialogue with these research traditions and work out the comparable aspects, as well as the specificities, of different cities and forms of migration regarding time and place. In the following chapters by Tetsuya Sahara, Florea Ioncioaia, Wolfgang Kaiser

and Nelida Fuccaro, the present volume takes up that challenge by focusing on urban governance in a comparative perspective. These chapters display the full geographical and historical range of the project by putting cities of the Ottoman Empire proper, as well as of neighbouring and connected regions, into a comparative framework. In all of these regions similar questions of urban governance and migration can be observed from the early modern age well into the twentieth century. At the core of these chapters are processes of urbanisation and how they are accelerated or impeded by the integration of different groups of migrants into city structures. Mainly, but not exclusively, the articles foreground administrative and legal structures that define the rights of migrants and decide their incorporation or non-incorporation. This process was played out against the background of changing economic structures that offered different groups of migrants different sources of income. In his chapter ‘The Ottoman City Council and the beginning of the modernisa-

tion of urban space in the Balkans’, Tetsuya Sahara, with reference to various cities in the Balkans, shows the consequences of the imperial programme of administrative and institutional modernisation in the context of intense migrations. The chapter considers the growth of nineteenth-century Balkan cities and the changes in

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urban administration that were implemented during this period.1 It highlights the role of the Ottoman reform policy as the main cause for a new style in urban governance. As a result, migrants were also integrated into these cities in a new way. Much of the population growth in Balkan cities was due to Christian migrants from the countryside, changing the ethnic and religious character of the hitherto predominantly Muslim cities. Christian migrants were not Islamised as had been the case in previous centuries; instead they established their own community structures. Notably, the Slavic-speaking Orthodox communities grew in importance and were supported by the Ottoman government. City growth, transformation of urban space and migration went along with administrative reforms that, since the second half of the nineteenth century, created modern municipalities. The chapter deals with the structure, as well as the rights and duties, of these municipalities. Of special importance were the new municipal councils designed to represent the ethnic and religiously mixed character of the cities. Councils representedmodernity in the urban setting of the Balkans as much as improved city infrastructure and new style buildings. They were to enhance the collaboration of the various urban communities according to the reform programme. Florea Ioncioaia’s chapter, ‘Foreigners in town: urban immigration and local

attitudes in the Romanian Principalities in the mid-nineteenth century’ examines the process of urbanisation in the Principality of Moldavia in the first half of the nineteenth century. For this crucial zone, situated between the three largest Empires on the continent (Habsburg, Russian and Ottoman, constituting a semiautonomous principality of the latter empire, but under strong influence of the first two), a comparative attention to migration issues is a good mirror for the historian in order to discuss facts and categories. As the main particularity of this process of migration and urbanisation, the chapter highlights the overwhelming importance of migration in creating new towns and boroughs and in letting the population numbers of existing cities swell. The largest group of migrants to Moldavian towns came from across the border, consisting of Jews fleeing the economic hardship and pogroms in Galicia and Poland. Like the Jews who remained a culturally distinct group, other migrants acquired a special and privileged status awarded by foreign consulates. Vagrants and refugees made up another large group of migrants to Moldavian towns. A second focus of the chapter is on the reaction of urban government and population towards these different groups of migrants. The Jews who became the foreigners par excellence were the main target of xenophobia. As their expulsion would have caused huge economic problems, the policy of the administration could only control and limit their further influx. Likewise the state created the category of ‘vagrant’ for all undesired migrants like refugees, deserters, etc., who could not earn a living. These vagrants were subjected to severe control and occasionally were expelled from the cities. Wolfgang Kaiser’s chapter, ‘Mobility and governance in early modern

Marseilles’, is conceived as a comparative excursion, the goal of which is to discuss questionings, categories and chronologies. The chapter examines the integration of migrants into the economy and the political structures of early modern Marseilles. The growth in population and trade the city experienced since the sixteenth century depended very much on migration. Merchants from Italy managed up to

one-third of the city’s trade, but less prestigious sectors also attracted large groups of mariners, artisans and workers from abroad. Some of these migrants only stayed temporarily in the city, others settled down. The most active and wealthy could be awarded citizenship very quickly; others had to follow the conventional routes of integration, i.e. guild membership or marriage. The political power in the city was concentrated in the hands of a merchant aristocracy that had access to municipal offices. With many examples, the chapter demonstrates the way in which migrants were integrated intoMarseilles’ traditional structure of government. Although certain groups, such as Italianmerchants, had a relatively easy access to political office, others, such as German or Swiss Protestants, were never fully accepted, even if naturalised. Nelida Fuccaro’s chapter, ‘Pearl towns and early oil cities: migration and

integration in the Arab Coast of the Persian Gulf’ concludes the first part of the book. This chapter explores the significance of migration for towns on the Ottoman fringe in the Gulf area, such as Kuwait and Manama, from the late nineteenth century. Both towns were founded on the consensus of different groups of migrants. Several networks of patronage, from tribal leaders of the hinterland to merchants from Southern Iran or India, provided the infrastructure for economic growth and political stability. Ruling families, who were themselves migrants, presided over this situation. At the bottom rung of society, migrants from the tribal areas, manumitted slaves and poor pearl divers as well as workers from India were to be found and were largely excluded from patronage. The result was a society where the designation ‘migrant’ became a marker of urbanity and civic pride and where connections to other places remained important for generations. At the same time the rulers of the Gulf cities tried to bolster their legitimacy by their claim to autochthony. In this situation only the few European and American missionaries and merchants remained foreigners. After the FirstWorldWar the character of Gulf cities changed because of the introduction of passport and new nationality laws. This had profound effects on their urban societies of migrants. The second section of the book with contributions by Christoph Herzog, Pascale

Ghazaleh, Florian Riedler and Dilek Akyalçın-Kaya focusing on controlling movement, besides taking up issues from the previous section from the perspective of the migrants. The focus is on the process of surveillance and control, which city and state authorities displayed in many instances in the regimes of urban governance presented above. These could be geared towards a control of the migrants’mobility in a literal sense, but also in the sense of the migrants’ social mobility. In many instances these were administrative and police measures, but also choices concerning which groups of migrants received support and which did not. This part begins with a chapter by Christoph Herzog: ‘Migration and the state:

on Ottoman regulations concerning migration since the age of Mahmud II’. The chapter gives an account of the development of the internal passport that was the principal administrative instrument of migration control in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. Created in the early nineteenth century in the context of the policy of state centralisation, the internal passport was carried over to the Reform Era, the Tanzimat, specified in its function and standardised in its procedure and appearance. It remained in use until the end of the Ottoman period. One of the

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main aims of the internal passport was to prevent vagrants, beggars, bandits and other undesired people from moving in the country and especially from coming to the capital Istanbul. In this it was an instrument to control small-scale migration to Ottoman cities. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the internal passport was seconded by various laws on vagrancy that added a further dimension to it. The new laws shifted from preventing migration of undesired groups to their repression. As part of a new social discourse that came to be complementary to religious ideals, vagrants, defined as people unwilling to work, were to be educated in workhouses. This process is the other face of modernisation. With Pascale Ghazaleh’s chapter, ‘Governance in transition: competing immi-

grant networks in early nineteenth-century Egypt’, the question of the relationship between migration, the changing definitions of identity and access to the elite is addressed. This chapter examines the impact of migration on existing social networks in the Egyptian elite during the first half of the nineteenth century. The context is the policy of Muhammad Ali to replace the old ruling class with a new one composed of migrants in order to gain a more independent position from the Ottoman central government. On the one hand, the chapter describes the mechanisms of how this new elite was brought to the country and installed in its powerful position. On the other hand, the reactions of parts of the old elite are analysed through the example of a prominent Cairene merchant family. The chapter presents the changes in the social universe of this family from the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. Florian Riedler, in his chapter ‘Armenian labour migration to Istanbul and the

migration crisis of the 1890s’ deals with the surveillance of Armenian labour migrants in the context of the inter-communal violence that shook the Ottoman capital in 1895 and 1896. Especially in the late nineteenth century, the number of these migrants was increasing because of the economic and political crisis in Eastern Anatolia, home to a large community of Armenian peasants who were forced to leave their land to earn money in cities. These labour migrants were among the ones most affected by the unrest in 1895 and 1896 when the government tried to suppress the Armenian national movement in Anatolia and also in Istanbul. The chapter shows how traditional ways of migration management (keeping migrants away from the capital) became enmeshed with political questions and the authorities’ fear of terrorists in the era of competing nationalisms. TheOttoman police started a programme of supervision and expulsion of Armenian workers and enforced regulations that made their return impossible. This situation could only be partly alleviated by the constant intervention of the Armenian Patriarchate in favour of its constituency. In this situation, the governance of migration was not only to manage the passage to industry after the demise of the guilds, but it was also to find a post-imperial equilibrium for the resulting diversity in a context of modern nationalisms. Such issues were also at stake in Salonica at the same time, a city that Dilek

Akyalçın-Kaya studies in her chapter: ‘Immigration to the Ottoman territory: the case of Salonica in the late nineteenth Century’. The chapter traces immigration to this Ottoman city in the aftermath of the 1878 Ottoman-Russian War. The main

focus is on the nature of immigration regulations and on their actual implementation in the context of a massive influx of Muslim refugees and Jewish immigrants to the city. The chapter gives an account of who was in charge of settling and taking care of the immigrants and refugees, highlighting the role of the local administration and its different departments, as well as the conflicts between central and local government. The reaction of local people towards settling immigrants illustrates how migration is a challenge to existing social and institutional balances. The last part of the book, comprised of the chapters by Irena Fatsea, Ulrike

Freitag andMalte Fuhrmann, focuses on the theme of status and identity, that is on questions of migrants’ status and of how their identity was defined. On the one hand, their identities were defined externally, i.e. by new state regulations on movement and settlement that have been encountered in the preceding sections. On the other hand, identity was a question of status and religion, and to a lesser extent of personal choice. Its investigation demonstrates the methodological difficulties of any history from below. Frequently, the chapters in this section illustrate the complex nature of the attribution and self-attribution of status and identity at the intersection of traditional and modern forms. In her initial chapter ‘Migrant builders and craftsmen in the founding phase of

modern Athens’, Irene Fatsea examines the role of craftsmen and workers in the building of Athens as the national Greek capital in the decades after independence in 1830. Workers were representatives of the old tradition of itinerant guilds in the building sector that had dominated the Southern Balkans, and they were adapted to the Ottoman labour market. In the era of national states, this situation came to be challenged. What this chapter shows is the link between old regime itinerant migrations and modern routes. It also illustrates the fact that change was incremental, and that between the 1820s and the 1880s old habits and modern ideologies cohabited. Modernity also being, in a way, the passage from itinerant migration to durable settlement, this chapter illustrates the complexity of this process in the context of competing nationalisms. The urban identity of newcomers is also one of the main questions Ulrike Freitag

poses in her chapter ‘The city and the stranger: Jeddah in the nineteenth century’. She argues that over the course of the nineteenth century, a number of factors profoundly changed notions of who was an ‘outsider’, and how such people were regarded. In a port city characterised by its international trade and the seasonal influx of hajjis en route to Mecca, the nineteenth century brought about important transformations: a combination of international pressure to liberalise trade and technological change, like steamshipping or the construction of the Suez Canal, diminished Jeddah’s role as an international entrepôt of trade. New regulatory measures introduced in the nineteenth century also impacted on the status of longer term residents. Whereas a first move was towards liberalisation (notably towards non-Muslim residents) during the reign of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, regulations regarding citizenship and land-acquisition gained in importance following increased European pressure and Ottoman wariness regarding possible Western attempts to gain control over the Holy Cities. This had an effect, for example, on the right of non-Ottoman Muslims to acquire lands in the Hijaz. Perhaps more

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prominently, the question of nationality seems to have been the trigger of the 1858 riots against European consuls and their entourage. Finally, there were increasing attempts to regulate the free movement of pilgrims, partly for fear of disease, partly to prevent the spread of Pan-Islam. In the last chapter of this book, entitled ‘“I would rather be in the Orient”:

European lower class immigrants into the Ottoman lands’, Malte Fuhrmann explores the identities of lower class migrants who came in small, but not insignificant numbers fromWestern and Central Europe to try their luck in Ottoman port cities such as Istanbul, Izmir and Salonica in the nineteenth century. Starting around the mid-nineteenth century, they were put under pressure by both their countries of origin and their country of residence. The migrants were supposed to integrate into the imperialist schemes of European states to dominate Ottoman cities. The European consulates could offer material assistance and a protected status to those ‘European’ migrants who were willing to go along with these claims and support their countries of origin. The focus of the chapter is on four individuals who serve as examples of different

reactions to these pressures. The chapter addresses the difficult questions of the identity and feelings of lower class migrants towards their adopted home country, the Ottoman Empire. These questions are hard to tackle, because due to their low social status these migrants have left few written sources to be interpreted by the historian. The four examples, among them two women and two men, and the confession-like accounts of their lives, are an exception in this regard. A variety of attitudes can be observed from these examples. They range from the instrumental use of the consulates’ infrastructure to the proclamation of having found a new home in the Ottoman Empire. What this whole journey into Ottoman, circum-Ottoman and post-Ottoman

migrations intends to propose is not only a revised vision of the identity of the migrant in the mirror of Ottoman urban societies. It is also a revised vision of Ottomanity itself. The fate of migrants tells a lot about the imperial system, about the old regime governance of migration and urban societies, made up of communities, guilds and civic elites, and about the ambiguous ways by which modernity came into this system. Thus, this book offers a glimpse of a transitional period of Ottoman history and the dilemmas faced by the empire and individuals alike in coping with the governance of the phenomenon of migration, which continue to challenge us well into our present time.