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Diasporas of the Modern Middle East

Contextualising Community

Edited by Anthony Gorman, Sossie Kasbarian

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Explores the changing conceptions and practice of diaspora in the modern Middle East

Approaching the Middle East through the lens of Diaspora Studies, the 11 detailed case studies in this volume explore the experiences of different diasporic communities in and of the region, and look at the changing conceptions and practice of diaspora in the modern Middle East. They show how concepts central to diaspora such as 'homeland', 'host state', 'exile', 'longing', 'memory' and 'return' have been deconstructed and reinstated with new meaning through each complex diasporic experience. They also examine how different groups have struggled to claim and negotiate a space for themselves in the Middle East, and the ways in which these efforts have been aided and hampered by the historical, social, legal, political, economic, colonial and post-colonial specificities of the region.

In situating these different communities within their own narratives - of conflict, resistance, war, genocide, persecution, displacement, migration - these studies stress both the common elements of diaspora but also their individual specificity in a way that challenges, complements and at times subverts the dominant nationalist historiography of the region.

Key Features:

  • Includes 11 detailed qualitative case studies based on extensive fieldwork and research
  • Provides a counter history to prevailing nationalist narratives
  • Engages the new theoretical and conceptual developments of Diaspora Studies with the empirical richness and dynamism of Middle Eastern Studies
  • Case studies include Greek Orthodox communities in Syria and Turkey, the late Ottoman elites, the Ossetians in Turkey, the Italians of Egypt, the Cypriot Armenian community, Armenian diasporic tourism in Turkey, Palestinians in Lebanon, Malayalees in the Gulf, Iraqis in Egypt, and Lebanese diaspora literature


Introduction, Anthony Gorman and Sossie Kasbarian
Part I. Post-Ottoman Reconfigurations
1. ‘Model Citizens or a fifth column?’, Haris Theodorelis-Rigas
2. Ottoman-Local Elites as Diaspora Communities, Ehud R. Toledano
3. Ossetians in Ottoman and Republican Turkey, Georgy Chochiev
4. The Italians of Egypt, Anthony Gorman
Part II. Exile, ‘Return’ and Resistance
5. Subversive Tourism? Diaspora Armenians visiting Turkey, Zeynep Turan and Anny Bakalian
6. A Story of Unfulfilled Desires, Maria Holt
Part III: Community in Host States – Establishing new homes
7. The ‘Others’ Within: Armenians in Cyprus, Sossie Kasbarian
8. Worthy lives in unworthy conditions, May Farah
Part IV: New Diasporas
9. Malayalee Migrants and Translocal Kerala Politics in the Gulf, M.H. Ilias
10. ‘I need hope, but all my hopes need money', Elisa Pasucci
11. Home in Lebanese Diaspora Literature, Jumana Bayeh.

About the Author

Anthony Gorman is Senior Lecturer in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He has taught at universities in Australia, Egypt and Britain. Among his research interests are modern Egyptian historiography and the resident foreign presence in modern Egypt. He is currently co-editing a book on the press in the Middle East and on a monograph on a history of the prison in the Middle East.

Sossie Kasbarian was awarded her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She has taught at SOAS, the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and the University of Edinburgh. She is currently Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Lancaster. Sossie is co-editor of the special issue of Patterns of Prejudice entitled Civil Society rapprochement and high politics stalemate: Mapping the future of Armenian-Turkish relations in the context of the wider Middle East (with Kerem Öktem, 2014), as well as a number of articles in the field of Diaspora Studies.


'A welcome and much needed complement to the growing body of scholarship on Middle Eastern diasporic communities outside the region, such as Middle Eastern migrants in Europe and North America... Researchers and students are likely to benefit, not only from the chapters themselves, but from unique methodological approaches and the rich bibliographies. The volume is highly recommended for those interested in ethnicity, migration, and diaspora in the region.'
- Shawn Teresa Flanigan, San Diego State University, Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online

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