- Extraterritorial Dreams: European Citizenship, Sephardi Jews, and the Ottoman Twentieth Century by Sarah Abrevaya Stein
Sarah Abrevaya Stein in Extraterritorial Dreams explores the convoluted history of European citizenship through the lens of the Ottoman Sephardic Jewish experience. Offering a significant reflection on various trajectories that emerged for individuals throughout wars, migrations, border changes, and genocide in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Stein tells of local reflections of global shifts.
At a time of transition from empire to nation-states during the late nineteenth century, Ottoman-born and Ottoman-descended Jews' legal identities were grounded at the intersection of the capitulary regime which dates back to the sixteenth century and the emerging passport regime. As Stein tells the story of Ottoman Sephardi Jews, who pursued, received, and lost papers and promises as protégés, she also tells a story of a remarkable interplay between the physical borders of states and the abstract boundaries of nations in the face of great legal instability. Within the context of early modern legal order's [End Page 208] transformation in the modern nationalizing world, it becomes apparent that Jewish protégés were legal misfits defying the logic of modern citizenship laws and procedures.
One of the major contributions of Stein's book is her analysis of modern legal identities as a spectrum in contrast to the well-established, dichotomous nature of Jewish citizenship which is often studied as an integral part of the history of "Jewish emancipation." Stein's introduction with insightful remarks, clearly states the purpose of Extraterritorial Dreams to expand the cast of characters of Sephardic Jewish extraterritoriality and reconstruct multi-partied and multi-sited conversations about extraterritoriality, moving beyond a mere history of the protégé concept.
Stein works through the growing body of scholarship on legal pluralism in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern contexts to consider how legally pluralistic spheres within the nation-state and diasporic histories encompassed roots of individual choices and strategies. Stein argues that protégé status was a flexible legal state whose value fluctuated over time and place as factors such as age, gender, marital status, city of origin, and luck determined one's inclusion and protection (p. 127). Furthermore, Stein's method neither focuses on a decline narrative nor a change from extraterritorial dreams to nightmares. In this regard, micro-histories play an important role as they bring the lived realities displaying various paths, both fortunate and unfortunate. This displays the dynamic and imprecise nature of protégé nature and relationships accompanied by shifting laws.
The book is divided into four main chapters, each with a geographic center. Stein treats these localities as prisms presenting narratives for the same phenomenon. The book starts with a brief history of Ottoman Jewish extraterritoriality followed by the first chapter opening with the Balkan Wars (1912–13) and the multifaceted transition from Ottoman to Greek rule. The second chapter focuses on the abolition of the capitulary regime in the Ottoman realm and expulsion of allied nationals from Ottoman Syria and Palestine through episodes of (mis)identification, arrest, denaturalization, and expulsion under "wartime exigency." Chapter three moves to France and Great Britain during the First World War and focuses on the legal designation for resident Jews and their turn into "enemy aliens." In chapter four Stein tells the bizarre story of a Baghdadi-born Jew, Silas Aaron Hardoon, who died as the richest foreigner in Shanghai. More than a story of wealth and fame, his death in 1931 started a series of sensational court cases, evolving into a legal question for states. A final chapter explores the experiences of Sephardic Jewish protégés during the Second World War and legacies of protection and misfortunes under the Third Reich when "holding papers" became a matter of life and death. [End Page 209]
Several related themes run through the chapters such as belonging, foreignness, and localness. In line with the term extraterritoriality's nature, these emotive terms with their immense fluidity and amorphousness find meaning in...