ANAMED Lecture: Berke Torunoğlu – Between Two Passports: The Formation of Ottoman Nationality and the Greek Population Question, 1830-1875

ANAMED is pleased to invite you to a lecture by Berke Torunoğlu (University of Tennessee Knoxville) titled “Between Two Passports: The Formation of Ottoman Nationality and the Greek Population Question, 1830-1875”.

Date:   17.12.2019
ANAMED Building, -1st Floor

Torunoğlu argues through the example of the Ottoman plans for the deportation of Greeks in 1869, that the Ottoman Naturalization Law of 1869 did not intend to create a more inclusive imperial identity; rather it aimed to establish and maintain the control of the state over the subject peoples, by facilitating expatriation, displacement, naturalization, and the loss of subjecthood. In their attempts to modernize sociopolitical orders that had come to seem backward by mid-century, Ottoman bureaucrats tried to adopt models regarded as successful in the West. To this end, they decoupled subjecthood from older ascriptive categories—i.e., ethnic, social, or confessional status— replacing them with more universal civic definitions. Through examination of individual cases as well as bureaucratic and diplomatic correspondence, my paper examines the practical ramifications of the Ottoman Naturalization Law for the “Neo- Hellene” population of the Empire. This new law sought to identify, and ultimately expel, select ethno-religious communities deemed to be “undesirable.” In the 1860s, the Ottoman state faced a constant threat of separatism from non-Muslim populations, and reacted by creating an exclusivist imperial nationality and denaturalizing those populations. Most importantly, this denaturalization process would entail the deportation (tebʿid) of significant portions of the native Ottoman population, most of whom were Greeks by nationality. My paper contextualizes this “Neo-Hellene” problem of the Ottoman state beginning in the 1830s, and provides a detailed analysis of the expulsion plans of 1868, outlined in hundreds of pages of commission reports prepared by Ottoman officials.