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Turcos in Brazil

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ozgun unver

on 28 April 2010

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Transcript of Turcos in Brazil

(L)os "Turcos"
in South America Origin of the term "turco":

"Because the initial waves of immigration from the Middle East to Brazil began before the dissolution of the Ottoman empire, immigrants arrived in Brazil with Ottoman identity documents, earning them the appellation ‘Turk’. The broader Brazilian society continues to apply the title ‘turco’ to these individuals of immigrant origin, irrespective of whether they are Muslims, Jews or Christians, and despite the virtual absence of immigrants from Turkey in this region." (Morrison 2005) Most of turcos are from Syria and Lebanon; however, there are also turcos whose descendents are from other Middle Eastern countries such as Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq mostly including the ethnic groups of Arabs, Armenians, and Jews.
They were mostly Christian: Maronite or Orthodox.
Turcos mainly migrated to South America during the last quarter of 19th and first quarter of 20th centuries (Klich 1993). The presence of Middle East descent immigrants and the term "turco" are not solely in Brazil but all over South America (e.g. Argentina, Chile, Honduras, Ecuador, etc.)
Different ethnic and religious groups oppose to the imposed but not self-ascribed label "turco" such as Arabs, Armenians, etc. because they do not want to be associated with being Turks.
However, the term "turco" is meant to evoke certain features shared by all groups, given that other possible names such as "Arabs" or "Middle-Easterns" do not represent this minority altogether. Although the "turcos" have started to gain political power a long time ago, they are still unwanted immigrants in South America (Klich 1993).
They are often referred to as "extanjero" alongside Asians ("chinos") meaning undesirable foreigners or "pernicioso" meaning injurious (Hu-DeHart 2009). Who are the Turcos? Turcos in Brazil 140,464 people from Middle East immigrated to Brazil between 1880 and 1969. From 1970s on, only 500 to 700 Lebanese and Palestinians continued to settled annualy in Brazil. However, it is estimated that today 2,5 million turcos live in the country (Karam 2007).

In the city of Sao Paulo it is estimated that out of 19 million 1 million are descendents of Middle Eastern immigrants.

Most of them being from Syrian and Lebanese descent, they prefer the terms Syrian, Lebanese or the name of the whole community Syrian-Lebanese (siriolibanes). REFERENCES

Hu-DeHart, Evelyn. 2009 Multiculturalism in Latin American Studies: Locating the “Asian” Immigrant; or, Where Are the Chinos and Turcos? Latin American Research Review, 44(2):235-242.

Karam, John Tofik. 2007 Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Karpat, Kemal H. 1985 The Ottoman Emigration to America, 1860-1914. International Journal of Middle EastStudies, 17(2):175-209.

Klich, Ignacio. 1993 Argentine-Ottoman Relations and Their Impact on Immigrants from the Middle East: A History of Unfulfilled Expectations, 1910-1915. The Americas, 50(2):177-205.

Klich, Ignacio and Jeffrey Lesser. 1996 “Turco” Immigrants in Latin America. The Americas, 53(1): 1-14.

Morrison, Scott. 2005 ‘Os Turcos’: The Syrian-Lebanese Community of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 25(3):423-438. Historically, "turcos" are often known as peddlers and traders. In time, as an ethnic group, they managed to get rich and play important role in the economies of South American countries.
For some, they are even dishonest people who could lie or cheat in order to earn more money. In this sense, their image is similar to the Jews in Europe in the past few centuries. Turcos in South America

A public opinion survey (1992) in Argentina showed that 31% of the participants think that the "turcos" are the least integrated migrant group and 40% think that "turcos" are a separate people than the Argentinians (Klich & Lesser 1996).
Carlos Menem who was the 50th president of Argentina (1989-1999) was referred to as "el turco" by the media. Nevertheless, the "turcos" had an Ottoman identity to an extent For example, one of the institutions created by Argentina's Syrian Muslims was called "Sociedad Otomana", and that a Syrian Orthodox opened contemporaneoulsy three shops were called La Otomana. These happened when the Ottomans were not ruling Syria any more. (Klich & Lesser 1996) "Turcos" (with the "chinos") are neither racialized like "indians" or "blacks", and not accepted as whites. This caused an ambiguity in their position in South American societies (Hu-DeHart 2009). Push factors:
economic, ethnocultural and political changes in the late Ottoman state.

Pull factors:
rise of agricultural enterprises in South America, and the need for workers.

the intention of getting rich

& the wish to return Rio de Janeiro 1926 Brazil was need of a lot more manpower at that time, and agricultural enterprise owners were requesting migrants from the Ottoman Foreign Ministry.
One example is a landowner from Sao Paulo, asking for large numbers of immigrants:
He wrote that he was particularly impressed with "the activities, sobriety, and facility of adaptation of oriental workers, among whom the Armenians, it seems to me, appear to embody the qualities necessary for agricultural labor." (Karpat 1985)
Julio Cesar Turbay, former president of Columbia
Abdalá Jaime Bucaram Ortíz, former president of Ecuador
are turcos of Lebanese origin.
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