State Fears and Immigrant Tiers: Historical Analysis as a Method in Evaluating Migration Categories


DOI: 10.12738/mejrs.2017.2.1.0107

Year: 2017 Vol: 2 Number: 1


This article argues that histories of migration regimes can illuminate ways in which institutions and legal categories produce concepts used in studies of forced migration. Following the development of the Immigrant Commission (Muhacirin Komisyonu) in 1860, the Ottoman State shifted from addressing the issue of immigration on an ad hoc basis to organizing migration and settlement through a central administration. Translations of the Ottoman term “muhacir” include migrant, emigrant, immigrant, and refugee. The ambiguity of this term requires engagement with the material significance of its historical usage. Contemporary translations highlight conditions of movement, but Ottoman administrative categories based on internal divisions within the immigrant population were equally important in determining migrant experiences. Through exploring the institutional history, organization, and policies of the Ottoman Immigrant Commission, this article considers how the development of administration created sub-categories within the migrant population based on sex, age, class, and religion. Historical analysis of migration administration offers a more precise framework for investigating processes of Ottoman immigrant incorporation and provides researchers of forced migration insight into the evolution and persisting impact of migration categories.

Governance, Migration regimes, Migrant categories, Labeling, Ottoman Empire

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