Forg­ing Ties, Forg­ing Pass­ports: Migra­tion and the Mod­ern Sephar­di Diaspora

Devi Mays

  • From the Publisher
January 14, 2020

Forg­ing Ties, Forg­ing Pass­ports is a his­to­ry of migra­tion and nation-build­ing from the van­tage point of those who lived between states. Devi Mays traces the his­to­ries of Ottoman Sephar­di Jews who emi­grat­ed to the Americas―and espe­cial­ly to Mexico―in the late nine­teenth and ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­turies, and the com­plex rela­tion­ships they main­tained to legal doc­u­men­ta­tion as they migrat­ed and set­tled into new homes. Mays con­sid­ers the shift­ing notions of belong­ing, nation­al­i­ty, and cit­i­zen­ship through the sto­ries of indi­vid­ual women, men, and fam­i­lies who nav­i­gat­ed these tran­si­tions in their every­day lives, as well as through the paper­work they carried.

In the after­math of World War I and the Mex­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, migrants tra­versed new lay­ers of bureau­cra­cy and author­i­ty amid shift­ing polit­i­cal regimes as they crossed and were crossed by bor­ders. Ottoman Sephar­di migrants in Mex­i­co resist­ed unequiv­o­cal clas­si­fi­ca­tion as either Ottoman expa­tri­ates or Mex­i­cans through their links to the Sephar­di dias­po­ra in for­mer­ly Ottoman lands, France, Cuba, and the Unit­ed States. By mak­ing use of com­mer­cial and famil­ial net­works, these Sephar­di migrants main­tained a geo­graph­ic and social mobil­i­ty that chal­lenged the phys­i­cal bor­ders of the state and the con­cep­tu­al bound­aries of the nation.

Discussion Questions