Governing the Armenian Question through Passports in the Late Ottoman Empire (1876–1908)

Journal of Historical Sociology
Vol. 32


The literature on the history of passports has been generally discussed in the context of freedom of movement around the globe during the 19th century. However, with its administrative regulations and practices, the Ottoman Empire offered a different view of passports and mobility controls. Through perceiving new threats from the political issues of the late 19th century and directing its attention mainly at the Armenian and Macedonian Questions, one of the critical issues facing the Ottoman government during the Hamidian Era (1876–1908) was controlling the geographic mobility of the individuals who were perceived as a threat based on Ottoman security policies. This paper brings a particular case of this history into focus: the administrative control of the mobility of Armenians. Despite the fact that extensive research has been done on the Armenian Question, so far, little has been written on the policies restricting their mobility. This paper aims to explore the passport regulations and practices to shed light onto the relationship between state formation, Ottoman threat perceptions and the marginalisation of the Armenian community. I offer a new look at the securitisation of the Armenian Question.

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