About the lecture

In the first three decades of the 20th century, a wave of migrants arrived in the US from Europe. American immigration authorities documented a number of those migrants as Ottoman and Turkish nationals of the Greek race (Topalidis 2022). Unlike classical assimilation narratives, this presentation emphasizes the uncertainty of migrants’ struggles for acceptance within the folds of the Greek immigrant and White American communities. This uncertainty led to initiatives such as establishing mutual aid organizations centered on cultural preservation and community-building in a US context.

Many mutual aid organizations were established by Ottoman Greek migrants in the US from 1907 through 1924 (Papadopoulos 2021). Their planned and executed activities included theater performances, commemorative events, dances, field trips, and fundraising drives to benefit refugees from Asia Minor, Eastern Thrace, and the islands in the Sea of Marmara, Imbros, and Tenedos. This presentation employs content analysis of their descendants' archival materials and oral histories to explore the migrants’ settlement experiences, community-building initiatives, and how international events turned their individual remittances into a philanthropic campaign.

About the speaker

Dr. Yiorgo Topalidis is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Flagler College. He received a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Florida in 2022 and holds the Modern Greek Studies Association’s John O. Iatrides Prize for Best Dissertation in English (2022 – 2025). Yiorgo’s research interests are emigration from the Ottoman Empire to the US and White identity construction, contestation, and transgenerational memory transfer. He is working on a manuscript exploring the social construction of Ottoman Greek migrant identity in an early-20th-century US context as a case study for decoupling Whiteness from White supremacist Whiteness.