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Extraterritorial Dreams

European Citizenship, Sephardi Jews, and the Ottoman Twentieth Century

Extraterritorial Dreams

European Citizenship, Sephardi Jews, and the Ottoman Twentieth Century

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 regime. 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.

240 pages | 14 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2016

History: European History, General History

Jewish Studies


"Stein’s excellent and insightful Extraterritorial Dreams presents the difficulties, ironies, and vexations of Jewish 'nationality' in the twentieth century. In so doing, it traces historical threads that take us from the early modern period to the present day, from the Bronx to Baghdad, and to numerous places and moments in between."

American Historical Review

“A scintillating study of the various moments and places in which numerous empires met, overlapped, and competed, as well as the individuals who moved between these empires, both physically and through the papers they carried and lost, Extraterritorial Dreams is incredibly rich, evocative, and persuasive in its exposition of the broad and diverse landscapes in which the author’s story unfolds.”

Julia Phillips Cohen, author of Becoming Ottomans

“From the stunningly diverse histories of Ottoman Jews who held (or lost) the protection of European powers during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Stein weaves a powerful and compelling tale of the shifting parameters of citizenship that evinces the human dramas not always evident in passports and legal documents. She brilliantly charts the ways in which ‘protection’ could be the stuff of both dreams and nightmares, offering new freedoms as well as imposing new dangers. In this deeply moving history, the human costs of being a legal misfit or anomaly are made visceral, along with the messiness of modern citizenship itself. This story of the complex range of citizenships held (and imagined) by Ottoman Jews prompts a larger rethinking of histories of belonging and exclusion that is urgently relevant to—and revelatory for—our contemporary world.”

Jordanna Bailkin, author of The Afterlife of Empire

“From Salonika to Alexandria, from London to Baghdad to Shanghai and many places in between, Stein takes her readers on an unforgettable journey through the complex legal landscape traversed in the twentieth century by ‘protected persons’ as war, unrest, and changing imperial or national agendas transformed the legal and geopolitical stakes of a centuries-old rights regime. Stein’s vivid storytelling and incisive analysis leave no doubt that the study of ‘protection’ has much to tell us about the power and limits of modern citizenship.”

Mary Dewhurst Lewis, author of Divided Rule

“In Extraterritorial Dreams, Stein takes the reader on a virtual world tour, from Istanbul to Shanghai and back again to France and Salonica, tracking the experiences and legal destinies of Ottoman Jewish ‘protégés’ as the Ottoman Empire itself devolved in the twentieth century. Through these far-flung stories, she paints a picture of a world where one’s passport could mean everything and nothing, and sometimes both at the same time.”—Christine Philliou, author of Biography of an Empire

Christine Philliou

"Stein’s book aims to complicate our understanding of modern European citizenship by offering
insight into a type of political belonging beyond citizenship and nationality; to contribute to Jewish
history by considering prot´eg´e status as being part of a spectrum of citizenship that was not merely
something someone possessed or lacked, inserting human agency into the historical narrative; and
using the example of the Jewish prot´eg´e to show how Ottoman history shaped the history of
European citizenship. On all three aims it succeeds, weaving together Ottoman, Jewish, Middle
Eastern, and European History through intimate accounts of the travails of fascinating marginal

International Journal of Middle East Studies

Table of Contents

Note on Translation and Transliterations
Introduction: Extraterritorial dreams
1          Seductive subjects
2          Protégé refugees
3          Citizens of a fictional nation
4          Protected persons?
Conclusion: Aftershocks


Jewish Book Council: National Jewish Book Award

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