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The Mexican Mahjar

The Mexican Mahjar
Transnational Maronites, Jews, and Arabs under the French Mandate

Drawing extensively on French colonial archives and historical ethnography, this book offers the first global history of Middle Eastern migrations to Latin America and the creation of Arab, French, and Mexican transnational networks.

December 2017
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352 pages | 6 x 9 | 6 b&w photos, 1 b&w map | Hardcover has a printed case, no dust jacket |

Migration from the Middle East brought hundreds of thousands of people to the Americas in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the time the Ottoman political system collapsed in 1918, over a third of the population of the Mashriq, i.e. the Levant, had made the transatlantic journey. This intense mobility was interrupted by World War I but resumed in the 1920s and continued through the late 1940s under the French Mandate. Many migrants returned to their homelands, but the rest concentrated in Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Haiti, and Mexico, building transnational lives.

The Mexican Mahjar provides the first global history of Middle Eastern migrations to Mexico. Making unprecedented use of French colonial archives and historical ethnography, Camila Pastor examines how French colonial control over Syria and Lebanon affected the migrants. Tracing issues of class, race, and gender through the decades of increased immigration to Mexico and looking at the narratives created by the Mahjaris (migrants) themselves in both their old and new homes, Pastor sheds new light on the creation of transnational networks at the intersection of Arab, French, and Mexican colonial modernisms. Revealing how migrants experienced mobility as conquest, diaspora, exile, or pilgrimage, The Mexican Mahjar tracks global history on an intimate scale.


Winner of the 2018 Khayrallah Prize in Migration Studies

  • Illustrations and Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. The Mexican Mahjar
  • Chapter 2. Managing Mobility
  • Chapter 3. Race and Patronage
  • Chapter 4. Migrants and the Law
  • Chapter 5. Modernism
  • Chapter 6. Making the Mahjar Lebanese
  • Chapter 7. Objects of Memory
  • Chapter 8. The Arab and Its Double
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Mexico City, Mexico

A historical anthropologist exploring transnationalism, mediation, and subalterns in colonial settings, Pastor is a profesor investigador in the División de Historia of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas.


“[A] contribution to our understanding of transnational networks, the role of the Levantine migrants to Mexico as well as an important chapter in modern Mexican history.”
Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online

“Pastor's elucidation of migrant experiences, and their representation by various social actors, is essential reading for understanding the often-hidden diversity of modern Mexico…[The Mexican Mahjar] is a powerhouse.”
Mashriq & Mahjar

The Mexican an innovative book with creative reading of sources and well-designed chapters...Such documentary richness and its careful reading lead to important conclusions about culture transformation and Mahjaris’ active agency.”
Latin American Research Review

“A ground-breaking work that presents the social configuration of Arabic-speaking migrants and their descendants in a new and revelatory light. This study stands to be an excellent example of a global, connected colonial approach to migration and nationalism. It reconfigures Latin American and Middle Eastern studies in a sound and compelling way, highlighting the ways in which Mexico and the Levant participate in, and interact with, the same structures of power.”
Christina Civantos, University of Miami, author of Between Argentines and Arabs: Argentine Orientalism, Arab Immigrants, and the Writing of Identity

“This book is a significant contribution to the field because it goes against assumptions engrained in much of the literature. It analyses new data in light of a contemporary revisionist perspective that has recently been challenging the established canon. Thus, not only is the book’s new Mexican-Lebanese material relevant, but its perspective represents the vanguard and will become an important reference in the years to come.”
Leonardo Schiocchet, Austrian Academy of Sciences Institute for Social Anthropology, author of Entre o Velho e o Novo Mundo: A Diáspora Palestina desde o Oriente Médio à América Latina


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca