Sovereignty and Subjecthood along the Ottoman-Russian Danubian Frontier, Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries

Sunday, January 5, 2014: 9:10 AM
Columbia Hall 4 (Washington Hilton)
Andrew Richard Robarts, University of California, Riverside
Drawing upon research conducted in Ottoman, Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian archives, my paper will engage in a comparative analysis of the nature and meaning of subjecthood in the Ottoman and Russian Empires.  Building upon case studies of Bulgarian and Russian Old Believer migrants on the move between the Ottoman and Russian Empires in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, it will explore the nexus between state sovereignty, border control, and human mobility along the Ottoman-Russian Danubian frontier in the transitional moment from the early-modern to modern periods.

Against the background of state attempts to impose territorial sovereignty (through border construction, quarantines, and travel documentation) my paper will explore how state officials negotiated and defined the categories of subject and citizen in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Through an analysis of passports and registration documents issued to migrants by Ottoman and Russia state officials I will offer a speculative discussion on how the Ottoman and Russia states identified their subjects and how subjects, in turn, identified themselves to the state.  Engaging in new diplomatic history, a close examination of the migrant-related articles and terminology in series of treaties signed between the Ottoman and Russian empires will form a core component of my paper.

Switching to the communal level and drawing upon specific examples my paper will explore what it meant, in practical terms, to be a subject of the Ottoman and Russian Empires around the turn of the nineteenth century.  The notion of “residency” status in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and the role of migration and settlement in generating concepts of citizenship in the Ottoman and Russian Empires in the middle part of the nineteenth century will also be addressed.