Diaspora of Diaspora: Adyge-Abkhaz Returnees in the Ancestral Homeland by Jade Cemre Erciyes

abkhaz adyghe diaspora

Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, Volume 17, Number 3, Winter 2008, pp. 340-361 

Published by University of Toronto Press

Jade Cemre Erciyes
University of Sussex

Focusing on the diasporic characteristics shown by ancestral return migrants, this case study looks at the Abkhaz-Adyge (Circassian) returnees from Turkey to the Caucasus and how they become the “diaspora of the diaspora.” The next generations of diasporans continue to dream of return, and, with recent developments in communication technologies and cheaper transportation, many find ways to realize this dream. There are many different forms of return, but some “return-migrate” and settle in an unfamiliar ancestral home. The relocation creates new experiences as the homeland turns out to be very different from that which they imagined, and the return migration is transformed into a new form of migrant experience that, in fact, produces renewed diasporic characteristics.

Keywords: return migration, Abkhaz diaspora, Circassian diaspora, Turkey, ancestral homeland

This article is about the Adyge-Abkhaz ancestral return migrants to the Caucasus from Turkey and how they became what I call a “diaspora of the diaspora.”1 Abkhaz and Adyge (Circassians) are among the autochthonous people of the Caucasus, which is famous for its ethnic and language diversity.2 They were deported from their homeland in the Caucasus as a result of long-lasting wars and continuing clashes with the Russian military forces. During their mass exodus in 1864 and over the ensuing years, the ethnically related Ubykh, Abkhaz, and Adyge were deported together and settled in different parts of the Ottoman Empire. Although 21 May 1864 officially marks the end of the war and commemorates the mass exodus of the Adyge-Abkhaz people, their migrations continued until the mid-twentieth century for various reasons. Today the majority live in Turkey, but many are also found in Jordan, Israel, and Syria. They have diaspora organizations in a variety of other places, for example, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United States, as a result of secondary migrations from these earlier diaspora settlements and recent migrations from the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation.

Download the full-text document in PDF format