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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Prof. Dr. Onur Yildirim

Prof. Dr. Onur Yildirim

Middle East Technical University, Ankara
External Senior Fellow
October 2017 - July 2018


Onur pursued his undergraduate studies in history at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, and then completed his graduate degrees respectively in history at the State University of New York and in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. His PhD dissertation, “Diplomats and Refugees: Mapping the Turco-Greek Exchange of Populations, 1922-1934” explored the Turco-Greek Exchange of Populations with a focus on the diplomatic and socio-economic aspects of the event. After receiving his PhD in 2002 from Princeton University, he assumed a position in the Department of Economics of Middle East Technical University, Ankara where he has been teaching courses in global history, economic history and political economy. Onur has published on various aspects of Ottoman economic history and maritime history and he has also pursued research and published on historical and historiographical aspects of the Turco-Greek Exchange of Populations. He was a Postdoc fellow in the Department of Economic History at the London School of Economics and then he was a recipient of Fulbright award to teach and conduct research at Binghamton University. He spent six months in 2015 as a fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg, Jena. Most recently he was awarded a French state scholarship to conduct research at CETOBaC (Centre d’études turques, ottomans, balkaniques et centrasiatiques, CNRS-EHESS-Collège de France). He is currently professor in the Department of Economics at Middle East Technical University, Ankara.

Selected Publications

  • “In a State of Déjà Vu: Turkey Facing the Refugee Problem,” in Flight & Migration and Social Transformation Processes, (ed.) S. Goebel, Berlin: Springer V.S., (Forthcoming)
  • “Donald, Me and the Uncommon People,” in Festschrift for Donald Quataert, (ed.) S. Karahasanoğlu et al, İstanbul: Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2016, pp. 109-120.
  • (With Seven Ağır), “Gedik: What’s in a Name,” in Bread from the Lion’s Mouth: Artisans Struggling for a Livelihood in Ottoman Cities, (ed.) Suraiya Faroqhi, London: Berghahn Books, 2015, pp. 217-236. 17.         
  • Diplomacy and Displacement: Reconsidering the Turco-Greek Exchange of Populations, 1922-1934, New York and London: Routledge, 2012 (paperback edition).
  • (With Eyüp Özveren) “Procurement of Naval Supplies during the Sixteenth Century: Venetian Arsenale and the Ottoman Tersane Compared,” Making Waves in the Mediterranean sulle onde del Mediterraneo, (eds.) M. D’Angelo, G. Harlaftis and C. Vassallo, Messina: Instituto di Studi Storici, Gaetano Salvemini, 2010, pp. 193-206.

FRIAS Project

The Sources of the Global Refugee Regime: Neuilly, Lausanne, and Potsdam in Historical Perspective

I have long been interested in the population transfers during the interwar period with a particular focus on the voluntary and mandatory exchanges of populations that took place in the aftermath of WWI in the post-Ottoman space in southeastern Europe. The Treaty of Neuilly which led to the voluntary exchange of populations between Greece and Bulgaria in 1919 and then the Treaty of Lausanne that caused the forceful exchange of some 2 million people between Greece and Turkey in 1923 formally authorized the nation-states to shuffle populations at their convenience with a view to attaining ethno-religious homogeneity. After WWII, the Treaty of Potsdam brought about yet another massive wave of displacement across Central and Eastern Europe. Potsdam became the third leg of the tripod that constituted the template of population transfers in Europe. My proposed project aims to explore these three diplomatic agreements with a view to tracing the elements of continuity and discontinuity in their core principles and then showing how each of these documents had their unique contributions to the construction and reconstruction of the notions of ‘population transfer’ and ‘refugee’ not only at home but also beyond their national borders of implementation.