Non­fic­tion

Extrater­ri­to­r­i­al Dreams: Europe Cit­i­zen­ship, Sephar­di Jews, and the Ottoman Twen­ti­eth Century

  • From the Publisher
December 22, 2016

We tend to think of cit­i­zen­ship as some­thing that is either offered or denied by a state. Mod­ern his­to­ry teach­es oth­er­wise. Reimag­in­ing cit­i­zen­ship as a legal spec­trum along which indi­vid­u­als can trav­el, Extrater­ri­to­r­i­al Dreams explores the his­to­ry of Ottoman Jews who sought, acquired, were denied or stripped of cit­i­zen­ship in Europe in the late nine­teenth and ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­turies — as the Ottoman Empire retract­ed and new states were born — in order to ask larg­er ques­tions about the nature of cit­i­zen­ship itself.

Sarah Abre­vaya Stein traces the expe­ri­ences of Mediter­ranean Jew­ish women, men, and fam­i­lies who lived through a tumul­tuous series of wars, bor­der changes, geno­cides, and mass migra­tions, all in the shad­ow of the col­lapse of the Ottoman Empire and the ascen­dance of the mod­ern pass­port régime. Mov­ing across vast stretch­es of Europe, the Mid­dle East, Asia, and the Amer­i­c­as, she tells the inti­mate sto­ries of peo­ple strug­gling to find a legal place in a world ever more divid­ed by polit­i­cal bound­aries and com­pet­ing nation­al­ist sen­ti­ments. From a poor youth who reached France as a stow­away only to be hunt­ed by the Parisian police as a spy to a wealthy Bagh­da­di-born man in Shang­hai who willed his for­tune to his Eurasian Bud­dhist wife, Stein tells sto­ries that illu­mi­nate the inter­twined nature of minor­i­ty his­to­ries and glob­al pol­i­tics through the tur­bu­lence of the mod­ern era.

Discussion Questions