2775) First ‘Circassian Exodus’ To Ottoman Empire (1858-1867) & Ottoman Response, Based On Contemporary British Observers' Accounts

The First ‘Circassian Exodus’ to the Ottoman Empire (1858-1867), and the Ottoman Response, Based on the Accounts of Contemporary British Observers.
Sarah A.S. Isla Rosser-Owen * , MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies

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.

Chapter 1 – The First Circassian Exodus, 1858-1867
1.i The Subjugation of the Circassian Tribes
1.ii Exodus: The ‘Suicide of a Nation’
1.iii The Black Sea Voyage: ‘Floating Graveyards’
Chapter 2 – Circassian Arrivals: ‘Samsoun Fever’
Chapter 3 – Ottoman Responses: Pragmatism or Policy?
3.i Pragmatism
3.ii Policy
Chapter 4 – British Responses
4.i Public and Political Sentiments
4.ii The Circassian Aid Committee
4.iii Consular Responses
Appendix I: Petition by Circassian leaders to Queen Victoria
Appendix II: Petition by the Abkhazians to Mukhlis Pasha

School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) 1st October 2007

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