FRESNO — Dr. David Gutman will speak on “Sojourners, Smugglers, and Dubious Citizens: The Politics of Armenian Migration to North America, 1885-1915” on Tuesday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, Room 191 on the Fresno State campus.
The presentation is part of the Spring 2020 Lecture Series of the Armenian Studies Program and is supported by the Leon S. Peters Foundation.
Between 1885 and 1915, roughly 8,000 Armenians migrated between the Ottoman Empire and North America. For much of this period, Ottoman state authorities viewed Armenian migrants, particularly those who returned to the empire after sojourns abroad, as a political threat to the empire’s security. In response, Istanbul worked vigorously to prevent Armenians both from migrating to and returning from North America.
In response, dense smuggling networks emerged to assist migrants in bypassing this migration ban. The dynamics that shaped the evolution of these networks resemble those that drive the phenomenon of migrant smuggling in the present day. Furthermore, as this talk will discuss, migrants who returned home found themselves stuck in an uneasy legal limbo as both Ottoman and United States governments disavowed them as citizens, leaving them vulnerable to deportation from their own ancestral lands. As this talk contends, the Armenian migratory experience in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries both parallels and sheds light on themes such as smuggling, deportation, and the criminalization of migration, that are central to the issue of global migration in the 21st century.
Gutman is associate professor of history at Manhattanville College, New York. He received his PhD in history from Binghamton University. He is the author of The Politics of Armenian Migration in the Late Ottoman Empire: Sojourners, Smugglers, and Dubious Citizens (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019).