The First ‘Circassian Exodus’ to the Ottoman Empire (1858-1867), and the Ottoman Response, Based on the Accounts of Contemporary British Observers, by Isla Rosser-Owen

A Master Thesis by Isla Rosser-Owen, MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies, SOAS, University of London, 2007

This  is  a  preliminary  analysis  of  the  impact  of  the  first Circassian  exodus  on Ottoman society, assessing  the Ottoman  response  to  an unexpected  refugee crisis, between 1858 and  1867.  It  is  based  primarily  on  the  contemporary  accounts  of  British  observers, including consuls,  journalists, and  the correspondence of other eye-witnesses sent  to  the Foreign Office or  the British Press. The analysis concentrates on  the  initial  landings of the Circassian refugees in Ottoman Black Sea ports and the effects that their presence had on the localities that received them, and provides details of how local authorities coped. It highlights lesser told stories of this already under-researched topic, such as the individual philanthropic and pragmatic  initiatives  inspired by  the crisis.  It widens  the scope of  the subject  to consider earlier migrations  that have not so far been accorded much attention. After  a  brief  account  of  the  process  of migration,  it  focuses  on  the  conditions  of  the refugees,  the  towns  and  the  encampments  that  accommodated  them  rather  than  on  the later  resettlement  period  that  historians  often  confine  themselves  to.  It  raises  questions about  the  inconsistencies of existing  research, and uses  the primary accounts of British observers to suggest a clearer picture of events. 

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