JDC Archives Webinar by Robin Buller: Ottoman Echoes: Remnants of the Empire among Sephardi Immigrants to France, 1919-1945 (June 14, 2023)

Isabelle Rohr Discussion

Wednesday, June 14, 2023



In the first decades of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Sephardi Jews migrated out of the crumbling Ottoman Empire and its successor states to build new lives in France. Many were drawn to France by a sense of shared cultural and linguistic kinship—the result of Franco-Jewish educational organizations active around the Mediterranean basin since the mid-nineteenth century. Still, practices rooted in the Ottoman lands persisted within diaspora communities for decades after the empire’s demise. Culturally, Ottoman Jewish immigrants transformed Paris’ 11th arrondissement into a “Little Turkey”.. Socially, they introduced Ottoman networks into Paris’ burgeoning immigrant Jewish associational scene. And legally, Ottoman Jews wielded plural passports and protégé papers, remnants of the imperial era that became critical documents for negotiating escape and expatriation during the Second World War—a process in which the JDC played an instrumental role.


Robin Buller is an independent historian and journalist based in Oakland, California. She completed her PhD in History at UNC Chapel Hill and was a Tandem Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Migration at the University of California Berkeley and the Pacific Office of the German Historical Institute. Dr. Buller’s research on Sephardi culture and Jewish migration has been published in Yad Vashem Studies, Jewish Social Studies, and other publications. Her first book, which looks at belonging among Ottoman Jewish immigrants in interwar Paris, is coming soon. She is the recipient of the 2022-2023 Sorrell and Lorraine Chesin/JDC Archives Fellowship.