Renée Hirschon and the Discovery of the Refugee in the Post Ottoman Space

This paper is an attempt at highlighting the role played by an eminent social anthropologist, namely, Renéee Hirschon, in introducing the refugees as a social category into the agenda of scholarship on the post-Ottoman states and societies. Her ethnographic research focused primarily on the refugees who were settled in a refugee settlement in Greece after the Greek-Turkish Exchange of Populations in 1923. Her interest in the human dimension of the event deviated her significantly from the existing scholarship on the subject that had dwelt until then on the diplomatic and political aspects of the phenomenon with no reference to the people who bore the brunt of the war, expulsion, resettlement and, so-called, national integration. Furthermore, she drew attention to the gender aspect of refugeehood which again had been a non-issue not only among the students of the Greek-Turkish Exchange of Populations but also among those interested in forced migration and refugee movements. As the refugees have once again come to the center of attention it is important to remember the pioneering scholarship of anthropologists such as Renée Hirschon who reminded everyone some three decades ago that refugees were more than numbers and their storyline had to be told and incorporated into the broader narrative of events so as to form a less distorted picture. In line with the objective of your panel I find it extremely relevant to explore the career and accomplishments of a prominent anthropologist who influenced a whole generation of professionals and no-professionals almost three decades ago.


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Citation Formats
O. Yıldırım, “Renée Hirschon and the Discovery of the Refugee in the Post Ottoman Space,” 2016, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: