“Displaced People Displace People:” The Late Ottoman Demographic Engineering and the Unionist Governors
Emre Erol (Sabancı University)
Is there any relationship between the seemingly separate histories of demographic engineering in the late Ottoman Empire that affected millions of Ottoman peoples of Albanian, Arab, Bulgarian, Circassian, Georgian, Greek, Jewish or Kurdish origin and the Muslim refugees from the Balkans and Russian territories? What sounds like a simple and rhetorical question, taken at its face value, provides a scholarly framework for a more holistic and inclusive history. Focusing on the personal micro-histories of the victims and perpetrators of demographic engineering clearly demonstrates how their histories are entangled. This presentation situates a segment in the life of a Unionist (member of the Committee of Union and Progress) appointed Ottoman civil servant between 1913 and 1918 within the wider framework of nation-building, nationalist competition, and late Ottoman demographic engineering. It argues that unique as it may seem, Ferid Bey’s tenure as a Muslim nationalist Ottoman governor, who was both a victim and a culprit of ethnic violence, points out to a wider pattern of Unionist appointed governors most of whom were all victims of displacement themselves. As it is often suggested in the literature about forced migration “displaced people displace people” axiom seems to connect histories of demographic engineering that was primarily designed by competing nationalists in the late Ottoman Empire.
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About the speaker
Emre Erol is an assistant professor of history at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Sabancı University (Istanbul) where he makes contributions to History, Political Science and Turkish Studies programs. He is also the director of the Foundations Development Program that coordinates Sabancı University’s core-curriculum program. He completed his Ph.D. at Leiden University’s School of Middle Eastern Studies and his M.A. (history) and his undergraduate studies (political sciences) at Sabanci University. His doctoral dissertation is published as a book titled The Ottoman Crisis in Western Anatolia / Turkey’s Belle Époque and the Transition to a Modern Nation State by I.B. Tauris in 2016. He worked at the University of Leiden and taught a variety of courses between 2009 - 2016. He worked in the School of Middle Eastern Studies, the International Studies and the International Honours College of Leiden University at The Hague (LUC). He taught courses in the fields of history, area studies, political science, and philosophy. His main areas of interest are the late Ottoman history, modern Turkish history, migration and capitalism in the Eastern Mediterranean, comparative Area Studies and nationalisms. He is involved with research projects and freelance consulting in addition to teaching.