Stacy Fahrentold: "Between the Ottomans and the Entente: The First World War in the Syrian and Lebanese Diaspora, 1908-1925"

Lecture | February 5 | 5-6:30 p.m. | 340 Stephens Hall

 Stacy Fahrentold, University of California, Davis

 Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Since 2011 over 5.6 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and beyond, and another 6.6 million are internally displaced. The contemporary flight of Syrian refugees comes one century after the region's formative experience with massive upheaval, displacement, and geopolitical intervention: the First World War. In this book, Stacy Fahrenthold examines the politics of Syrian and Lebanese migration around the period of the First World War. Some half-million Arab migrants, nearly all still subjects of the Ottoman Empire, lived in a diaspora concentrated in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. They faced new demands for their political loyalty from Istanbul, which commanded them to resist European colonialism. From the Western hemisphere, Syrian migrants grappled with political suspicion, travel restriction, and outward displays of support for the war against the Ottomans. From these diasporic communities, Syrians used their ethnic associations, commercial networks, and global press to oppose Ottoman rule, collaborating with the Entente powers because they believed this war work would bolster the cause of Syria's liberation. Between the Ottomans and the Entente shows how these communities in North and South America became a geopolitical frontier between the Young Turk Revolution and the early French Mandate. It examines how empires at war-from the Ottomans to the French-embraced and claimed Syrian migrants as part of the state-building process in the Middle East. In doing so, they transformed this diaspora into an epicenter for Arab nationalist politics.

Stacy D. Fahrenthold is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Davis, where she is also affiliated with the UCD Migration Research Cluster. Fahrenthold’s research blends migration and borderlands approaches to social history, drawing on informal archives to critique the production of place-based histories. Between the Ottomans and the Entente is her first book, and it is a history of World War I as told from the Syrian diaspora. Published by Oxford University Press, the book recently won both the Khayrallah Prize for Migration Studies and the Syrian Studies Association Book Award for 2019. Fahrenthold’s work also appears in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of Global History, Mashriq & Mahjar, and the Journal of American Ethnic History.

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