Dr. Michael Ferguson is a Lecturer in the Department of History at Concordia University. Michael’s research focuses on questions of identity, marginalization, and minorities in the late Ottoman Empire and early republican Turkey. His current book project examines the relatively unknown social and cultural history of enslaved and emancipated Africans and their descendants in Izmir in the late Ottoman Empire. His study contributes to the historiography on African slavery, as well as the growing body of scholarship uncovering the lives of non-elite subjects whose contributions to the making of the late Ottoman world have been underrepresented in the prevailing literature.
His research on the African diaspora in the Ottoman Empire has been published in prestigious edited volumes on slavery, including in Race and Slavery in the Middle East: Histories of Trans-Saharan Africans in Nineteenth-Century Egypt, Sudan, and the Ottoman Mediterranean (AUC Press), and has co-written a chapter with Ehud R. Toledano in the forthcoming Cambridge World History of Slavery (Cambridge University Press) volume on the nineteenth century.
His next project is a history of forced migration into and out of the city of Izmir from 1875 to the present. By studying the category of “displacement” in the long term, he aims to uncover historical patterns underlying and guiding various waves of immigration into and out of the city over the last 140 years. In light of recent events such as the Syrian Civil War and related refugee crisis in Izmir, this work is not only timely but important for understanding why and how this city became a vital location for the movement of peoples in the eastern Mediterranean. This study promises to contribute to historiographies on the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, and the modern Mediterranean, as well as broader global literatures and governmental policy on forced migration, refugees, and patterns of uprooting and settlement.