Agents of Mobility: Migrant Smuggling Networks, Transhemispheric Migration, and Time-Space Compression in Ottoman Anatolia, 1888–1908


  • David Gutmann



This article examines the emergence of migrant smuggling networks that facilitated migration to North America from sending communities in eastern Anatolia during the period when this migration was officially outlawed by the Ottoman State. These networks, which together comprised a highly coordinated and profitable migration industry, played a critical role in smuggling North America-bound migrants from the Anatolian interior to various port cities on the Ottoman and Black Sea coasts and onto foreign steamers. The article examines the diverse coterie of actors that comprised these networks and analyzes the factors driving their change over both space and time during the period under investigation. It especially focuses on how the migration industry incorporated pre-existing social relationships and networks while incorporating many new ones in order to maintain the flow of migrants in the face of state prohibitions. In so doing, the article argues for the importance of examining the roles played by ›peripheral‹ social actors and dynamics in shaping the new regime of time-space that emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, of which large-scale transhemispheric migrations were a key part.