The jewish longshoremen in the ottoman and Greek periods: Cultural practices and shifting values in the port labor market of thessaloniki, 1900-1925

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In Ottoman Thessaloniki of the early twentieth century, the cargo-handling services between the ships and the docks were performed primarily by Jews. In Greek Thessaloniki of the early 1920s, the docks became less ethnically homogeneous as a result of the arrival of great numbers of non-Jewish Greek laborers. The longstanding assumption in scholarship has been that the Jewish tenure on the wharf of Thessaloniki could only have been possible because of the Ottoman regime's tolerant attitude, whereas after the incorporation of Tessaloniki into Greece (October 1912) this Jewish predominance came to an end because of the intolerant stance of the Greek nation-state. While the existing literature of Salonikian Zionist intellectuals has tended to see two narrow categories-Ottoman cosmopolitanism versus Hellenic parochialism-the lens of social history provides new insights into the port labor market and its working population. A study from below reveals the multiple dimensions of Jewish longshoremen's culture which enabled these workers to maintain a high degree of dominance in the labor market even after the Ottoman period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-532
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Modern Greek Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. My sincere thanks to Sotirios Theofanis, President of the Thessaloniki Port Authority; Panagiotis Michalopoulos, Member of the Board of Directors for the Thessaloniki Port Authority; Kostas Paloukis, senior archivist; and Christos Mais, ex-archivist, for their help in gaining access to the remarkable archival collections of the Thessaloniki Port Authority. I also wish to express my special thanks to Prof. Johanna Hanink, for her encouraging and useful comments. This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation under Grant number 220/18. The translations of Greek primary and secondary sources are mine and any errors that remain are my sole responsibility. 1The voters’ list of Thessaloniki includes 38,305 names of men who were eligible to vote in the municipal and parliamentary elections. The list was approved by the magistrate court of Thessaloniki in March 1915. 2Registration numbers 23489, 23578, and 23690. 3Registration numbers 37919, 37923, and 37934. 4Registration numbers 29552, 29776, 30135, 30410, 30512, 32213, 32235, 32262, 32644, 32733, and 33139. 5Registration numbers 18816, 18839, 18970, 19280, 22526, and 23313. 6Registration numbers 8838, 8843, and 8848. 7For scholarship on the culture of masculinity in other societies, see Herzfeld 1988; Gallant 1995; Hadjikyriacou 2013. 8See note 4. 9Registration numbers 30333, 30596, and 31975. 10Registration number 33112. 11Registration number18438 , 23446, and 30411. 12Registration number 31975. 13For comparative studies on alliance strategies alongside cleavages among different ethnic groups, see De Vries, 2001; Nelson, 2001.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by The Modern Greek Studies Association

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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