Program

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships, 2019

Project

Routes of Race: Migration between Ottoman Syria, Mandate Lebanon, and the United States, 1881-1945

Department

American Studies

Abstract

“Routes of Race” examines the multiple routes migrants from Ottoman Syria took to and through North America in the first half of the twentieth century. Using archival sources from France, Lebanon, and the United States, it analyzes the encounters between peoples from Syria and power structures along their itineraries, and the ways these confrontations produced competing racial, gender, and class formations. French, US, and Ottoman state and non-state actors had stakes in this traveling population, and asserted control over them during their transit. As these powers drew the global color line, Syrian migrants both disrupted and helped shape it through their mobility. This project shows that processes of migration—tickets, borders, transit zones—reveal the inner workings of race, empire, and capital. Sitting at the intersection of ethnic studies and transnational history, this study stresses mobility as a key process of racial formation.

Program

ACLS Fellowship Program, 2024

Project

Race in Transit: Mobilities between Great Syria and US Empire

Named Award

ACLS/Marwan M. and Ute Kraidy Centennial Fellowship in the Study of the Arab World and Latin America

Department

Women and Gender Studies

Abstract

"Race in Transit: Mobilities between Greater Syria and US Empire” follows the itineraries of migrants from Ottoman Syria through Beirut, Marseille, the US-Mexico Borderlands, US-occupied Philippines, and the United States to examine how transnational patriarchy forged the global color line, and mobility’s central role in the construction of race, sexuality, and gender. Asserting that racial and gendered formations are a relational, site-specific, and incomplete projects, I argue that gendered and classed differences in Ottoman Syria were exacerbated by the transit of migrants through multiple empires. Christian Syrian men were able to align with an emerging transnational patriarchy and used their position to police poor Syrian women in transit. Gendered and class differences became racialized in unstable ways as migrants encountered the emerging multi-sited US empire. While legally classified as white in the United States, at its borders Syrians were fashioned as “desirable” or “undesirable” for entry based on their relations to transnational patriarchy and their experience in global transit. Their experiences reveal the messy relations between local and global constructions of race and transnational patriarchy and the consequence for migrants who straddle racial categories.