Where have all the egyptian fellahin gone? Labor in Mersin and Çukurova (second half of the nineteenth century)

Ehud R. Toledano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter re-examines the view that after the occupation in the early 1830s of the Adana-Çukurova region by Ibrahim Paşa, the Egyptian commander and son of Mehmet Ali Paşa, Egyptian agricultural laborers (fallahin) were transported to the area to develop and cultivate cotton fields. It concludes that there is no reliable evidence for that assertion, and that in the second half of the nineteenth century, the migrant workers in Çukurova were mostly Alawis who came from the Nusayri Mountains and Latakiya in northern Syria. The need for agricultural laborers, whether temporary or permanent, was endemic and attracted free, not enslaved, people from neighboring areas who were seeking day-wage labor. It is possible that some Egyptian workers who had traveled to the Levant in search of work in agriculture found their way to Çukurova among the Syrian work migrants. It is also possible that enslaved Circassian refugee families were settled in the region by the Ottoman government as a result of the ethnic cleansing conducted by the Russians in the Caucasus during the 1860s.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEastern Mediterranean Port Cities A Study of Mersin, Turkey
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Antiquity to Modernity
EditorsFiliz Yenişehirlioğlu, Eyüp Özveren, Tülin Selvi Ünlü
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)331993662X
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameUrban Book Series
ISSN (Print)2365-757X
ISSN (Electronic)2365-7588


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