In this talk, Stacy Fahrenthold examines the politics of Syrian and Lebanese migration during 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. Examining how empires at war—from the Ottomans to the French—claimed emigrants abroad as part of the state-building process, Fahrenthold argues they transformed this diaspora into an epicenter for Arab nationalist politics.
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Assistant Professor, History
Stacy Fahrenthold is a historian of the modern Middle East with teaching interests in labor migration; displacement/refugees; border studies; and diasporas within and from the region. Her research into Arab migration emphasizes the diaspora’s impact on modern Syrian and Lebanese politics. Her first book, Between the Ottomans and the Entente: The First World War in the Syrian and Lebanese Diaspora, 1908-1925, comes out with Oxford University Press in Spring 2019.