Gutman’s article examines the attempts by the Ottoman state under Sultan Abdulhamid II to prevent large-scale Armenian migration to North America. It reveals how these efforts were hampered in practice by contradictions inherent within the state’s attempts to control and surveil the mobility of its subjects, internecine feuding within its provincial bureaucracy, and numerous and often conflicting social and political dynamics on the ground. This article contributes to our understanding of issues of state making, social control, and labor discipline in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire and the various social forces that both shaped and resisted these processes. What emerges is a nuanced view of the post-Tanzimat Ottoman state’s ability to exercise its will on the ground. Finally, it provides crucial and much needed insight into the relationship between the central Ottoman state and its Armenian population in the years prior to the 1915 Armenian genocide.

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