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Cover of Empire of Refugees by Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky
Empire of Refugees
North Caucasian Muslims and the Late Ottoman State
Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky


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February 2024
360 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503636965
Paperback ISBN: 9781503637740
Ebook ISBN: 9781503637757

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Between the 1850s and World War I, about one million North Caucasian Muslims sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire. This resettlement of Muslim refugees from Russia changed the Ottoman state. Circassians, Chechens, Dagestanis, and others established hundreds of refugee villages throughout the Ottoman Balkans, Anatolia, and the Levant. Most villages still exist today, including what is now the city of Amman. Muslim refugee resettlement reinvigorated regional economies, but also intensified competition over land and, at times, precipitated sectarian tensions, setting in motion fundamental shifts in the borderlands of the Russian and Ottoman empires.

Empire of Refugees reframes late Ottoman history through mass displacement and reveals the origins of refugee resettlement in the modern Middle East. Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky offers a historiographical corrective: the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire created a refugee regime, predating refugee systems set up by the League of Nations and the United Nations. Grounded in archival research in over twenty public and private archives across ten countries, this book contests the boundaries typically assumed between forced and voluntary migration, and refugees and immigrants, rewriting the history of Muslim migration in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

About the author

Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky is Assistant Professor of Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"A brilliant tour de force. Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky offers a detailed, revisionist understanding of the beginnings of the modern refugee regime."

—Dawn Chatty, University of Oxford

"Magnificent and magisterial. Empire of Refugees not only reveals the emergence of a new template for refugee flows in the modern world, but it also captures the human experiences of the refugees themselves: their sorrows, hopes, failures, and successes. A prodigious achievement."

—Michael A. Reynolds, Princeton University

"Empire of Refugees is a meticulously researched and imaginatively conceived history of mass migration that represents a genuinely fresh contribution to both late Ottoman history and global refugee studies."

—Laura Robson, Pennsylvania State University

"Empire of Refugees offers a fresh take on the late Ottoman state and how the refugee question was a factor in many important events towards the end of the empire. A unique perspective on an under-explored topic, the book enriches Ottoman studies and makes for compelling reading for anyone interested in history."

—Usman Butt, Middle East Monitor