Migration, Displacement, and Dispossession in the Middle East

Course Description: this upper-division seminar explores how patterns of human migration impacted the states and societies of the Middle East from the 19th century to the present. The course retrieves nomads, labor migrants, travelers, and refugees from the margins of social history and focuses on how post-Ottoman Arab states thought about migration, how they categorized migrants, managed human mobility, and even compelled forced migrations. We will take special interest in how modern Arab nation-states shaped their populations through migration policy: how did the construction of new national boundaries influence ethnic, religious, and political identities?

Students analyze how legal paraphernalia like passports, the census, visas, and international law made the state a stakeholder in regulating human migration. This course incorporates discussions of major migrations in the region, including the Armenian Genocide, the Greek-Turkish population transfer, Palestinian dispossession, and Arab emigration to the Americas. Contemporary issues like statelessness, sectarian politics, and human trafficking will be contextualized within the region’s experience with migration. Course readings will include historical case studies, participant interviews, memoirs, diasporic literature/arts, and international legal documents.

Course Syllabus (Spring 2015 Williams College)