Argentina in the Global Middle East
Lily Pearl Balloffet



Transregional Migration and Mobility

In the far northeastern region of Argentina, it is easy to fancy oneself in a different world from that of the frenetic bustle of the nation’s federal capital. Red dirt roads snake across the subtropical landscape, winding through verdant forests and wetlands that reverberate with the thrum of more than half the nation’s biodiversity. In contrast, a thousand kilometers away in the historic port city of Buenos Aires, the colorful crush of public bus lines streams constantly through the major arteries and countless microneighborhoods. Here, the thrum is that of careening buses, the rattle of the century-old subway system, and more than 40,000 taxis. The city’s iconic 9 de Julio avenue—a veritable river of vehicles some twenty lanes wide that slices north to south through the heart of the city—by itself sees more than 200,000 commuters daily. In a place like Buenos Aires, it’s not hard to imagine that this tangled, moving mass of people has its roots in a long history of human mobility—across city blocks, neighborhoods, oceans. This port city has long been a convening place. Perched at the southwestern shore of the Río de la Plata estuary, it looks on as the Atlantic intrudes into the basin of the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers. This is the topography that greeted millions of people who arrived in Argentina as part of the tectonic shifts in global migration patterns that reconfigured this planet’s human landscape from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Buenos Aires—the city, the port, and the pulsing circulation of those who make their lives and conduct their affairs there—is a poster child for the transformative process of mass migration in the American hemisphere.

The small town of Oberá in Argentina’s northeasternmost province of Misiones seems a world away from the nation’s furious metropolis and dramatic port landscape. A quiet city tucked into low, green hills, it sits south of the Paraná River. Energetically, the town is at best a distant cousin of the fast-paced capital. It is a place that exemplifies the striking differences between this lush northeastern region and the densely peopled federal capital. For the uninitiated, it would be all too easy to assume a cultural, historical distance from modern Argentina’s immigrant past in surroundings such as these. At first glance, it may not seem to be a place that embodies the defining history of international migration that is so readily apparent in Buenos Aires. However, once a year, Oberá’s Immigrant Festival dispels any such illusions. At the annual event, more than 100,000 people gather in the Park of Nations arena to sample food, watch dance performances, and mill about sixteen fanciful houses scattered across two dozen acres. Each house is meant to represent one of sixteen different national heritage groups—or colectividades—who have settled in the Oberá area since the late nineteenth century. A stroll through the Park of Nations leads past a Bavarian beer garden, a Japanese pergola, and the smell of fresh pasta wafting from an Italian-style villa. At the top of the sloping park, the Casa Argentina (Argentina House) stands triumphant, decked out in celeste and white ribbons, surrounded by smoking asado pits filled with splayed open cuts of beef.

Following months of archival research in Buenos Aires in 2011, this was my first stop on a meandering 6,000-kilometer bus loop through a dozen provinces in the nation’s sprawling interior. Writing a book about the ties between Argentina and the Middle East born from a long history of migration left me with the urge to make my own peregrination. I wanted to see firsthand the vast distances that Middle Eastern migrants to Argentina routinely traveled for work, family, schooling, and a host of other motivations starting in the last decades of the nineteenth century. In search of the vestiges of these movements, I had arrived in Oberá in time for the opening ceremony of that year’s Immigrant Festival. I watched as performers representing the colectividad árabe appeared onstage dancing the dabke–a traditional line dance form with roots in the Levantine region of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. The precision footwork, billowing pants, and smart vests were more than a little reminiscent of the traditional Argentine gaucho dancers who had preceded them on the stage, regaling the audience with a vigorous malambó set. To mark the shift from Argentine to Arab dancing, the large screen that acted as a backdrop for the dancers faded from a projection of Argentina’s flag to a new image. The flag that took its place, however, was not that of Syria or Lebanon—the origin points of some 130,000 Middle Easterners who made their way from what was then the Ottoman Empire to Argentina by World War I. Instead, there appeared a projected image of the Saudi Arabian flag—a flag that didn’t come into use until 1973. Moments later, in the parade of the elected Reinas de Colectividades (pageant queens), the reina árabe marched under yet another flag, neither Syrian, Lebanese, nor Saudi Arabian. Instead, her sash sported the crest of the Arab League—the federation of Arab nations established in 1945 as World War II came to an end. This chronological jumble of symbols struck me as somewhat fitting for a group described as “mythical and exotic” in the event program.

It is common for casual conversations about the role of the immigrant masses in Argentine history to entirely gloss over the presence of Middle Easterners. This silence is reminiscent of their portrayal at the festival that day in 2011: a people whose past is untethered to any specific national heritage or coherent temporality but is decidedly, excitingly, foreign in an Argentine context. In reality, Middle Eastern migration is at the very heart of Argentine history and culture. At Oberá’s Park of Nations, one needed only to walk over to the Casa Argentina to be reminded of this. Drifting across the patio filled with asado smoke and waving Argentine flags were the samba and chacarera songs of Eduardo Falú, a foundational figure in Argentina’s modern folk music movement. Born in 1923 in the arid northwestern province of Salta some 1,200 kilometers away from Oberá, the singer was the son of Syrian immigrants Juan and Fada Falú. By the time of his death in 2013, he was indisputably a pillar of traditional Argentine criollo musical culture, an obvious choice for the soundtrack of the Immigrant Festival’s symbolic epicenter. On the lawn of the Casa Argentina, the convergence of geographies—from Salta, to Misiones, to Syria—is striking.

This is, at its core, the type of powerful collapsing of geographic distance and space that this book offers. From the roar of a Buenos Aires subway tunnel, to the tropical buzz of a Misiones forest, the common thread of Middle Eastern migration enables us to connect these geographies. It suddenly becomes possible to imagine Oberá, Salta, and the nation’s capital as part of the same continuum of moving people, things, and ideas. We can thus integrate our vision of Argentine history by exploring the history of Argentina’s ties to the Middle East. By way of tracing these mobilities so commonly thought of as somehow outside of—foreign to—the Argentine national fabric, we can challenge a host of geographic segregations that so many decades of historical scholarship naturalized by rendering a vision of Argentina as a metropolis and its corresponding interior. The inherent division between Buenos Aires and the rest of Argentina has been taken as a given by years of historical accounts and countless portrayals of Argentine national history in classrooms throughout the Americas and beyond. To see cities as bastions of civilization and their corresponding rural spaces as stagnant and barbarous is not unique to outdated perspectives on Argentina, but it may be one of the starker examples. This book invites us to think of geographic space and human movement as continuous and connective.

A Transregional Approach to Migrant América

From a twenty-first-century vantage point, it is easy to see relations between peoples and states in the Middle East and the Americas as yet another product of an ever-globalizing world. Indeed, new populations, commodities, and ways of thinking circulate between these regions with increasing frequency, thanks to the perfect storm of communication and transportation technology. Meanwhile, media, politicians, and international organizations tirelessly inform us that this planet is on the move. The constant onslaught of these reminders can lull one into believing that the panorama of human, material, and ideological circulation among these regions is a recent phenomenon. Engaging a historical perspective on the topic of Middle Eastern–American relations (América on a hemispheric scale, that is), reveals how global migration systems bound these geographies together since the nineteenth century.

Argentina lies at the nucleus of América’s history of global migration booms of the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. By 1910, one of every three Argentine residents was an immigrant—twice the demographic impact that the United States experienced in the boom period from the 1860s to World War I. As a principal transatlantic migration hub, Argentina’s trajectory as a modern nation played out through the experience of mass migration. The immigrant masses integrated national space through their engagement with agriculture, industry, and infrastructure. Meanwhile, elites and popular classes alike formulated ideas of national identity alternately forged in, or in opposition to, ideas about immigration and migrants themselves. The theme of immigration is central to both inward-facing histories of the development of Argentine national identities, as well as outward-facing histories of Argentine foreign relations.

It was in this context that Middle Easterners from Ottoman Syria made their way to Argentina prior to World War I and quickly spread across the high desert of the Andean Altiplano borderlands, all the way to the fabled Patagonian Land of Fire in the south. Subsequently, the communities, institutions, and businesses of this colectividad dotted the landscape of Argentina’s largest cities to its most remote frontiers. Though scattered far and wide across more than 1 million square miles, these individuals were anything but isolated from one another. The movement and circulation of people, things, and ideas between urban hubs and rural outposts alike defined the geography of this migration. This migrant geography—conceived of and articulated alternately as a diaspora, imagined community, or network—can perhaps most simply be referred to as the mahjar. In Arabic, mahjar refers to the combined people and territories that constitute the human spatial map of migrant worlds constructed after the massive out-migration from Ottoman Syria since the last third of the nineteenth century. The mahjar materialized during a period of massive development and transition for American migration hubs such as Argentina, Brazil, and the United States—the three countries that became home to the largest resident communities of individuals with roots in the Arabic-speaking eastern Mediterranean. In each of these American contexts, the proliferation of new infrastructure, especially railroads, provided the circuitry for highly mobile Middle Easterners across the hemisphere.

This book traces some of the key ways in which women and men in the Argentine mahjar staked their fundraising endeavors, business ventures, and artistic projects in movement across a migrant geography that stretched beyond national boundaries. These multiple forms of mobility—not only of humans themselves, but of objects, worldviews, money, and material culture—were central to the social landscape of the mahjar. The geographic extent of these mobilities ranged from habitual microregional or local movements to dramatic forays across political borders. The constancy and diversity of these mobilities testify to the fact that the social relations of this colectividad did not simply connect two or more countries in the traditional conceptualization of “transnational” migrant groups.1 These diverse layers and types of mobility did generate transnational relations between people in Argentina and the Middle East, but they also generated local and regional networks of relations that were intimately related to those transnational ties.2 As a starting point, thinking of Argentina’s Middle Eastern migrants in a transnational frame does indeed help us move beyond a binary mode of interpreting the movement in migrants’ lives as defined by either arriving or leaving—immigration versus emigration. It opens the door to seeing cultures and social structure as something other than predicated on determined spatial boundaries or static notions of rootedness.3

However, conceptualizing the ties born out of Middle Eastern migration to Argentina as simply transnational presents certain limitations. Argentines of Middle Eastern descent can certainly trace their heritage back to particular nations very much in existence today—predominantly Syria and Lebanon. At the time of the global migration boom of the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, though, these nations did not exist yet; they were part of the Ottoman Empire. In other words, the advent of nation-states followed, rather than preexisted, the birth of supposedly transnational ties between these Latin American and Middle Eastern geographies. Furthermore, even after the establishment of the national boundaries that today delineate the nations of the Arabic-speaking eastern Mediterranean, the various mobilities that existed between those places and the Americas did not neatly abide by a fixed transnational circuit between Argentina and Syria/Lebanon. Instead, a broader set of social, political, and cultural relations drew together actors and ideas from a wider Middle Eastern and North African region, as well as a wider American region. Some scholars of the mahjar refer to this phenomenon as the birth of a public sphere that deeply affected everything from political movements to artistic forms in the modern Middle East and whose formation we can attribute to historical processes of mass migration.4 In a similar light, this book examines the mobilities between localities, provinces, and nations as subsets of a broader spectrum of transregional relations. This is not only a more accurate description, geographically, of the panorama of ties that formed between the Middle East and Argentina—and the Americas more generally. In addition, it encourages us to more thoroughly incorporate people and places at the margins of traditional histories of mass migration and to conceive of them as unified in distinct ways by transregional systems of migration and mobility.

Locating a Global Middle East

By the time twentieth-century scholars started to examine the history of the mahjar, the legacy of Cold War area studies exerted a powerful force on the way in which we have traditionally taught about and conducted research on the “Middle East” and “Latin America.” Methodological and conceptual frameworks that naturalized the bounded nature of world “areas” left little room for subjects whose realities are staked in the movement between places. Although it was during the Cold War years that the institutional consolidation of area studies gained serious traction, the tendency to isolate and segregate the globe into areas is much older. The desire to dominate through intricate regimes of labeling, delineating, and partitioning lay at the very core of colonial systems of territorial domination for centuries.5 Questioning the supposed logic of these segregations is necessarily one of the foremost tasks at hand if we are to work toward decolonizing the way we think, write, and teach global histories.6 There is no better way to muddy the concept of neatly packaged world regions than to delve into the histories of large-scale movement, such as mass migration, between those geographies.7 In this way, histories of the mahjar help us to chip away at the legacy of colonial and nationalist worldviews that for so many generations enshrined their visions of the world.

None of this is to say that there are not tangible cultural, linguistic, and political histories deeply related to place that helped to shape the worldviews and customs that migrants carried with them into the mahjar. In the past, some migration scholars have understood these communities as “diasporas”—social formations with distinct sociological features, wherein scatterings of people seek out continuing connections with home both literally and metaphorically through a variety of means.8 Others have drawn from Benedict Anderson’s notion of “imagined communities”—conceptualizing diasporas as a particular form of imagined community produced through “political, symbolic and moral cosmologies that both belong to and transcend the social and territorial contexts in which they actually exist.”9 For the sake of thinking beyond traditionally bounded world regions, this study avoids engaging the idea of diaspora as a fixed yardstick against which to measure the habits of Middle Eastern migrants and their descendants in Argentina. Rather than a theoretical framework, it is most useful in the context of Argentine–Middle East relations to speak of diaspora in a geospatial sense. In sum, we can think of the mahjar as a “diaspora” in that it denotes a physical terrain comprising a collection of places from which transregional actors operate. This allows us to categorize “diasporic” politics or cultural production, for example, as activities defined by their generation within the geospatial context of the mahjar. Foregrounding the geospatial nature of the term serves as a reminder that these groups—whether we conceive of them as imagined communities, diasporas, or otherwise—were first and foremost products of intricate networks of mobility on both sides of the Atlantic. This book explores the mechanics by which these diasporic mobilities not only influenced the formation of the mahjar’s social landscapes, but also played an important role in Argentine ties to the Middle East beyond the realm of migrant diasporas.

The array of social landscapes comprising the mahjar in the Americas serves as the focus for a growing number of scholars of Middle Eastern migration—past and present.10 Honing our focus on the ways in which these cultural, social, and political forms were in play throughout the mahjar at a global scale invites us to think of the Middle East as something more than a simple geographic designation. We might imagine this new scope of analysis as a “Global Middle East.” Together, new works on Middle Eastern migration in the Americas have helped us to frame the long-distance ties that bind the history of the American hemisphere with that of the Arabic-speaking eastern Mediterranean.11 From Canada, to Cuba, to Argentina, people with transregional ties to homelands such as Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine participated in the tumultuous historical processes that shaped the modern Middle East. Meanwhile, across the hemisphere, they also became Americans. These were simultaneous and mutually influential processes by which migrants and their descendants formed multiple belongings. To ascribe too much meaning to this duality—transregionalism versus integration—risks ensnaring us in the same binary of immigration versus emigration. Moving away from these binaries offers us the opportunity to harness a vocabulary of movement that does not hinge on the crossing of national borders and does not unnecessarily segregate migratory practices that need to be studied as an inclusive system. Rather than focus on Arab American experiences as embodied by these dualities, this book organizes its analysis around the movement—business travel, mobile political campaigns, roving cultural producers, and other examples—that was truly at the core of the lived social landscapes of the mahjar and at the heart of this notion of a Global Middle East.

Imagining a Global Middle East can also help us to think differently about “Latin America” as a presumed region.12 It can open new pathways for elucidating other types of transregional circulation and exchange between Latin America and the rest of the world. Placing migration at the center of this new globalized perspective on Latin America inevitably draws our attention to a variety of entanglements—from political to economic to cultural. These entanglements are often connected to historical processes of human migration and mobility, and the transregional relations that formed thereafter. In this vein, this study of Argentina’s place in this global Middle East reveals the nexus between migrant networks and the evolution of foreign policy (what one historian has deemed “immigrant foreign relations”).13 Relations of these various sorts in turn came to bear on Argentine dealings with people, ideas, and governments from the Middle East and North Africa. The dynamic unfolded over the course of the twentieth century in the wake of the global migration boom, and it continues to shape Argentina’s place in the global Middle East today.

As part of the larger project of thinking beyond traditionally limited territorial constructions of the “Middle East”—and “Latin America” too, for that matter—it is useful to explore the concept of alternative, potentially unifying geographies. One such example that this book employs as a conceptual framework is the “Global South.” As a term, Global South emerged as a post–Cold War alternative to “Third World” and was taken up by several intergovernmental organizations. The less hierarchical nature of the term (in contrast to “Third World” or “developing countries”) contributed to its increasing popularity in this century’s academic research. It is a term intimately related to the impacts of capitalist globalization at the periphery of wealthy spaces and human populations. Global South studies, as a field, examines power dynamics within global capitalist systems and—most relevant to this book—the history and contemporary reality of South-South relations. We can characterize these relations as a collection of exchanges, dialogues, solidarities, and collaborations that cross national, ethnic, racial, and linguistic lines.14 This is a particularly useful way of theorizing the ways in which post–World War II actors in Latin America and the broader Middle East/North Africa regions construed their histories and destinies as connected. Although the term was not in common parlance then, the Non-Aligned Movement that developed over the course of several decades starting in the early 1960s arose in part from the social and political ideologies of individuals who recognized their shared subjugation to globalizing capitalist powers.

Bringing the idea of a Global South to the migratory histories that connect the geographies that this book explores allows us to think of the term as an analytical lens, not just a fixed site of research. In this context, theorizing the Global South as a spatial system marked by interconnecting forms of mobility helps move us toward a clearer vision of the South-South movements of people, things, and ideas that shaped Argentina as a part of the Global Middle East. This perspective relates in key ways to other systems-based approaches to migration history that encourage us to identify the continuing transcultural linkages that arise among societies and states through processes of transborder migration, capital flow, and the circulation of ideologies.15 The diversity of interconnections that characterize Argentine and Middle Eastern history is, in sum, what each chapter of this book sets out to delineate. The promise of these conceptual frames is that they can lead us toward a baseline of interconnectedness and shared experience rather than the territorialized nation-state as our main unit of analysis.

This doesn’t mean that the existence of the nation-state disappears or becomes totally deterritorialized. In the case of this study, it means that we draw closer to a new, international history of Argentina. In conjunction with an exploration of mobilities in the mahjar, we must also necessarily examine how the Argentine state, together with various sectors of civil society, forged visions of Argentina’s relationship to the Middle East–North Africa region. In part, these visions coalesced through the experience of interacting with and enacting evolving attitudes toward Middle Eastern migrant and heritage populations in Argentina and abroad. This held true from the time of liberal state builders such as Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811–1888) and Juan Bautista Alberdi (1810–1844) through the twentieth century into the Cold War. Taking the long view of Argentina’s international history and its relationship to systems of global migration also enables us to forge new understandings of twentieth-century migrants in Latin America more generally. We can approach this book’s transregional history as practice toward future framings of Latin American migrant communities as systems of overlapping mobilities. These systems in turn foster transregional relationships at multiple scales. Bringing these historically overlapping systems and pathways of mobility to light also has the power to connect diverse Latin American geographies to the history of transregional capital flows, social movements, political relations, and cultural circulations. The international, cosmopolitan nature of hub cities like Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Havana has long encouraged us to see these places as connected to international historical processes. Bringing into focus the ways in which these urban sites were part of regional networks of migrant mobilities results in the sudden, dramatic incorporation of secondary cities, towns, villages, and outposts across the hemisphere into newly internationalized histories of Latin America. Simultaneously, we also gain a more holistic vision of the sociospatial geographies of migrant groups—like the mahjar—that were previously studied as scatterings of ethnic enclaves rather than nodes in a larger network. In other words, this book pushes us to question the genesis of assumptions about regional and global geographies as intrinsically separate—whether at a microregional, national, or global scale.


1. Scholarship in this vein, which gained currency in the 1990s and came to be known as the “transnational turn,” fundamentally shifted the way that scholars began to understand and articulate the dynamics of global migration and migrant communities. See Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch, and Cristina Blanc-Szanton, “Transnationalism: A New Analytic Framework for Understanding Migration,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 645 (1992).

2. Other scholars have also considered the utility of framing transnational ties as a subset of a broader spectrum of relationships. See, for example, Lynn Stephen. Transborder Lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007). Others hone their focus on instances of “translocalism” or the creation of specific “transcultural” spaces by migrant actors and their descendants. For examples and definitions, see Dirk Hoerder, “Translocalism” in The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration (February 2013),

3. This perspective has increasingly characterized migration studies scholarship across several disciplines. Illustrative examples include Eiichiro Azuma, Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Nina Glick Schiller and Georges Eugene Fouron, Georges Woke Up Laughing: Long-Distance Nationalism and the Search for Home (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001); Molly Todd, Beyond Displacement: Campesinos, Refugees, and Collective Action in the Salvadoran Civil War (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010). Newer works hinge on attention to the interplay between spatial and migration history, gendered experiences of migration, and the formulation of shared anti-imperialist imaginaries in the Global South. For examples of recent works that address these themes, see Michael Goebel, Anti-Imperial Metropolis: Interwar Paris and the Seeds of Third World Nationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Robeson Taj Frazier, The East Is Black: Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); Anne Garland Mahler, From the Tricontinental to the Global South: Race, Radicalism, and Transnational Solidarity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018); Sandra McGee Deutsch, Crossing Borders, Claiming a Nation: A History of Argentine Jewish Women, 1880–1955 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); Fredy González, Paisanos Chinos: Transpacific Politics among Chinese Immigrants in Mexico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017), For an overview of the evolution in migration studies historiography in recent decades, see Barbara Lüthi, “Migration and Migration History” Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte (June 2018),

4. On the idea of the transnational public sphere and meaning making in the mahjar, see Reem Bailony, “Transnationalism and the Syrian Migrant Public: The Case of the 1925 Syrian Revolt, Mashriq and Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies 1:1 (Spring 2013): 8–29; Lauren Banko, The Invention of Palestinian Citizenship, 1918–1947 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016); Stacy D. Fahrenthold, Between the Ottomans and the Entente: The First World War in the Syrian and Lebanese Diaspora, 1908–1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).

5. The advent of postcolonial theory acted as a polestar for challenges to the construction of categories and meanings previously assigned to the globe’s geographic subregions. Over the last two decades of the twentieth century, other areas of increased academic interest also helped to chip away at these delimitations; these fields included world/global history and historians of oceanic realms. For a brief discussion of the evolving relationship between postcolonial and migration historiography, see Andrew Arsan, John Karam, and Akram Khater, “On Forgotten Shores: Migration in Middle East Studies and the Middle East in Migration Studies,” Mashriq and Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies 1:1 (2015).

6. Scholars have brought much-needed critical perspective to the term Middle East, which arose amid particular geopolitical conditions. The actual spatial parameters of this region, however, have been less thoroughly interrogated. See Michael Bonine, Abbas Amanat, and Michael Ezekiel Gasper, eds., Is There a Middle East? The Evolution of a Geopolitical Concept (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012); Thomas Scheffler, “‘Fertile Crescent,’ ‘Orient,’ ‘Middle East’: The Changing Mental Maps of Southwest Asia,” European Review of History 10 (1993): 253–272. Recently, some scholars have begun to more fully integrate histories of large-scale migration and displacement into our understanding of geopolitical formations in the modern Middle East. See, for example, Benjamin Thomas White, “Refugees and the Definition of Syria, 1920–1939,” Past and Present 235:1 (2017): 141–178.

7. For further discussion on redrawing the boundaries of area studies via mahjar histories, see John Tofik Karam, “I, Too, Am the Americas: Arabs in the Redrawing of Area and Ethnic Studies,” Journal of American Ethnic History 37:3 (2018): 94.

8. For earlier examples, see James Clifford, “Diasporas,” Cultural Anthropology 9 (1994: 302–338), and Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (New York: Routledge, 2000). For later application of diasporic theoretical approach to Middle East studies, see Paul Silverstein, “Anthropologies of Middle Eastern Diasporas,” in Soraya Altorki, ed., A Companion to the Anthropology of the Middle East (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2015).

9. Cecília Baeza and Paulo Pinto, “The Syrian Uprising and Mobilization of the Syrian Diaspora in South America,” Middle East Report: The Latin East 284/285 (Winter 2017),

10. For a brief review of the state of the field of Middle East and North African migration studies in recent years, see Elizabeth Claire Saylor and Lily Pearl Balloffet, “Editorial Foreword: Mashriq and Mahjar Today—Migration Studies at a Crossroads,” Mashriq and Mahjar: Journal of Middle East Migration Studies 4:1 (2017): 1–3.

11. Histories of Middle Eastern migrants and their communities in the Americas include Akram Fouad Khater, Inventing Home: Emigration, Gender, and the Middle Class in Lebanon, 1870–1920 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, The Eastern Mediterranean and the Making of Global Radicalism, 1860–1914 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013); Evelyn Alsultany and Ella Shohat, eds., Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013); Sarah M. A. Gualtieri, Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009); Sally Howell, “Cultural Interventions: Arab American Aesthetics between the Transnational and the Ethnic,” Diaspora 9:1 (2000): 59–82. Recent works specifically on the mahjar in Latin America include Steven Hyland Jr., More Argentine Than You: Arabic-Speaking Immigrants in Argentina (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2017); Camila Pastor, The Mexican Mahjar: Transnational Maronites, Jews, and Arabs under the French Mandate (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2017); John Tofik Karam. Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007).

12. In the case of Latin America, like the Middle East, scholars have critiqued the conceptions of geopolitical space imposed by Europeans as part of the nineteenth-century’s spreading imperialism. See, for example, Michel Gobat, “The Invention of Latin America: A Transnational History of Anti-Imperialism, Democracy, and Race,” American Historical Review 118:5 (2013): 1345–1375.

13. Donna R. Gabaccia, Foreign Relations: American Immigration in Global Perspective (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012).

14. For an expanded definition of the term Global South, as well as further readings on the subject, see Anne Garland Mahler, “Global South,” in Oxford Bibliographies in Literary and Critical Theory, ed. Eugene O’Brien (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

15. For extended discussions of systems-based approaches to migration history and a discussion of these approaches in relation to broader trends in migration historiography, see Christiane Harzig and Dirk Hoerder with Donna Gabaccia, What Is Migration History? (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2009); Dirk Hoerder, “From Immigration to Migration Systems: New Concepts in Migration History,” OAH Magazine of History 14:1 (1991): 5–11, and Lüthi, “Migration and Migration History.”