Patricia Ward

Not So “New” After All: Migration Management and Human Security in the Age of Empires


Scholarship often cites the proliferation of the migration-security nexus as coinciding with “unprecedented” displacement, the effects of globalization, and “challenges” to nation-states’ borders in the post-Cold War era. However, the use of security jargon to justify migration policies and management practices in the age of empires suggests that framing the migration-security relationship as a particular effect of contemporary phenomena requires rethinking. This presentation explores the ways in which today’s migration management norms relate to policies and practices used to manage mobilities within and across the Ottoman empire under the language of security in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. While today’s post-colonial and globalized space may indeed present new dynamics that shape mobilities, to frame the security-migration management relationship as an entirely “new” response to a “new” world order may inadvertently serve to legitimize claims of exceptionalism to justify exclusionary migration practices and hierarchies of movement.


6035 P.Z. – Constantinople. La place Emin-Onou [Eminönü] et Yeni Djami [Yeni Cami, the New Mosque]. From the Photochrom Prints Collection at the Library of Congress More photochroms from Turkey | More photochrom prints[PD] This picture is in the public domain.