Arabic-Speaking Migrants in 19th- and 20th-Century Latin America
- Lily Pearl BalloffetLily Pearl BalloffetDepartment of Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
Global transoceanic migration booms of the 19th century brought with them more than a quarter of a million migrants from the Arabic-speaking eastern Mediterranean destined for Latin American cities, towns, and rural outposts across the region. Over the course of the early 20th century, a near-constant mobility of circulating people, things, and ideas characterized the formation of immigrant identities and communities with roots primarily in the Levantine area of the Middle East. Over time, historians of this migration have come to interpret as central the transnational and transregional nature of the ties that many individuals, families, and institutions in Latin America carefully maintained with their counterparts across the Atlantic. As the 20th century progressed, Middle Eastern migrants and their subsequent generations of descendants consolidated institutions, financial networks, and a plethora of other life projects in their respective Latin American home places. Meanwhile, they continued to seek meaningful participation in the realities of a Middle East-North Africa region undergoing deep shifts in its geopolitical, social, and cultural landscapes from the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the end of World War I, through the tumultuous century that followed.