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Middle Eastern and Balkan Mobilities in the Interwar Period (1918-1939)

13th - 14th September 2018

 The Skilliter Centre for Ottoman Studies,

Newnham College, Cambridge



The period 1918 to 1939 saw much mobility into, out of and within the region that had once formed the Ottoman empire. Examining such mobility both in the context of states which had separated from the empire before the First World War and those new nation states which emerged after the empire’s collapse in 1918, the conference aims to consider the factors behind such movements of population and their impact both on the countries to which people moved as well as on those they had moved from. It will also consider the ways in which populations maintained contacts with, or were involved politically, socially or culturally with, the countries they had left behind.


Thursday 13 September


9.00-9.30 Registration

9.30-10.30  Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Space
Chair: Kate Fleet (Cambridge)

Philip Wirtz (SOAS, London), “German expatriates in the “twilight” of the Ottoman empire: Friedrich Schrader in Istanbul, 1908-1919”

Michael Provence (University of California San Diego), “Post-Ottoman dreams and nightmares in the Mandate Middle East”

10.30-11.00 Coffee

11.00-12.30 Politics in Exile
Chair: Kate Fleet (Cambridge)

Peter Wien (University of Maryland), “The great opening of space: conceptualizing the nexus between migration and the abstraction of Arab and Muslim political identities in the interwar period”

Ebru Boyar (METU, Ankara), “Politics in exile: strategies of opposition to the republic among Turkish exiles in the interwar period”

Eli Osheroff (Leibniz-ZMO-Hebrew University, Jerusalem), “Pan Arabism and Zionism in the interwar period: on realised and unrealized population transfers”


Friday 14 September


8.30-10.00 Mobility
Chair: Ebru Boyar (METU, Ankara)

Amit Bein (Clemson University), “Strolling through Istanbul: Egyptians in 1930s Turkey”

Liat Kozma (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), “Regional careers: the mobility of doctors across new frontiers”

Fabio Giomi (CETOBAC, Paris), “The many roads to the “Right Path”. Muslim association El-Hidaje between Egypt and Yugoslavia”

10.00-10.30 Coffee

10.30-12.00 Integration
Chair: Khaled Fahmy (Cambridge)

Leyla Amzi-Erdoğdular (Rutgers University, Newark), “Yugoslav Muslims and Turkey: nation, allegiance, and migration in the interwar period”

Milena Methodieva (University of Toronto), “Worlds old and new: Muslim émigrés from Bulgaria in the aftermath of empire and the early Turkish republic”

Seda Özdemir Şimşek (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul), “Integration and visibility strategies of the middle-class refugees in Ayvalık after the Greek and Turkish compulsory population exchange”

12.00-13.00 Borders
Chair: Khaled Fahmy (Cambridge)

Jordi Tejel (University of Neuchâtel), “Short distance mobility across the Syrian-Turkish border, 1929-1939: paradoxes of a global Middle East”

Onur İşçi (Bilkent University, Ankara), “Convergence, territoriality and the Soviet-Turkish Border Treaty of 1928”

14.30-16.00 Colonialism
Chair: Kate Fleet (Cambridge)

Brian McLaren (University of Washington), “Colonialism and mobility in Libya during the Balbo era, 1934-1940”

Nikola Minov (St. Cyril and St Methodius University, Skopje), “The colonization of Aromanians in Southern Dobruja (1925-1933)”

Amr Ryad (KU Leuven), “Muslim religious mobility in moving pictures: the Dutch Hajj documentary film Het Groote Mekka Feest (1928) and its colonial context”

16.00-16.30 Coffee

16.30-18.00 The Search for a Better Life
Chair: Ebru Boyar (METU, Ankara)

Edvin Pezo (IOS Regensburg), “Between two newly established nation states. Unwanted and (un)desirable Muslim migration from Yugoslavia to Turkey during the 1920s”

Rabah Aissaoui (University of Leicester), “‘We want our share of life, light and freedom’: exile, migration and the rise of nationalism in colonial Algeria in the interwar period”

Toufoul Abou-Hodeib (University of Oslo), “From Marjayoun to Oklahoma: the globalization of the periphery in interwar Lebanon”