Transforming an Empire: The Ottoman Empire's Immigration and Settlement Policies in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries


MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, vol.50, no.2, pp.252-271, 2014 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 50 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00263206.2013.870894
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.252-271
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The Ottoman Empire's immigration and settlement policies were redefined in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a result of the population movements caused by the rise of nationalism, wars and territorial losses. With changing demographics and the acceptance of a new citizenship concept by the Tanzimat Edict in 1839, the millet system which had previously secured the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of the empire for centuries was challenged. The central argument of the paper is that the Ottoman state responded to these challenges by supporting a liberal migration and settlement policy in an institutionalized and highly complex structure through the pioneering Ottoman Migration Commission. Although certain restrictions later took place due to internal and external factors such as a changing economic, social and political climate, the institutionalized settlement and migration policy proves that a multi-dimensional system was developed in response to the challenges of a dissolving and yet transforming Empire.