Ottoman Armenian Racialization in an American Space (1908–1914)

  • Bedros Torosian University of California, Irvine
Keywords Armenians, Syrians, newspaper, Asparez, California, Ottoman
Keywords Armenians, Syrians, newspaper, Asparez, California, Ottoman

Abstract

At the dawn of the twentieth century, droves of former Ottoman subjects including Armenians and Syrians began to set foot in the United States searching for better opportunities. Many faced American white supremacist xenophobia and fell victim to racial discrimination. Various Ottoman diasporic communities responded to this harassment by expressing an increasing investment in the question of American whiteness and vigorously yearning to move beyond its fringes. Their voices, however, remain considerably muted; their stories are largely excluded from most American immigration narratives and conventional area-studies histories. This study endeavors to help reverse this scholarly tradition by examining the mindset of Ottoman Armenian expatriates as articulated in the editorials of Asbarēz, an Armenian-language weekly published in Fresno, California starting in 1908. As this micro-study shows, the migrants used the European racialist knowledge imported from the Ottoman empire to lay claim to whiteness and achieve integration in the US but also to affect change at home.

Author Biography

Bedros Torosian, University of California, Irvine

Bedros Torosian is a second-year PhD student in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine. He holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in History from the American University of Beirut. His research is centered on gender, race, and Ottoman transatlantic migrations in the early twentieth century. Email: btorosia@uci.edu

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Published
2021-09-28