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The Caucasus war and the emigration problem of the Circassian nation in the 19th century

Shin, Dong-Hyug 1

1국민대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The “Circassian question” is an important element defining the characteristic of the Caucasus war in the 19th century and contains the tragic history of an ethnic group. This article examines the “Circassian question” as a result of the Caucasus war of the 19th century, that is, studies the cause and process of large-scale Circassian migration into the Ottoman Empire from the Northwest Caucasus to 1864 after the Crimean War. The interpretation and assessment about the 19th century the Caucasian war(the Circassian question) shows a clear different position between the central(mainly russkie scholars) and local scholars(mainly from the Caucasus regions). Russkie scholars recognize an inevitability, a harsh conquest policy in war process and Circassian’s big victim as it’s result. Also they assert that Tsar’s government had no goal of eliminating Circassians, there were important assignments of Tsar’s government policy that to keep Black Sea coast and to strengthen the new frontier of the empire in the Caucasus. Russkie scholars, emphasizing that as the most sensitive issue the cause and characteristic of Circassian migration are an outcome of Russia-Turkey-Britain interests surrounding the Northwest Caucasus, using sometimes ‘forced-muhajirun’ expressions they insist that Circassian’s migration was ‘muhajirun’. This stance doesn’t differ much from interpretation of Russian Empire period. On the other hand, the first source cited in the text and like the Caucasus region researchers did prove in their studies, after defeat in the Crimean War Tsar’s colonial policy in the Northwest Caucasus was not differentㄴ from that of other Caucasus(Chechnya and Dagestan). There is a need to give an eye to that Circassian migration policy was implemented, in the situation that Russia already seized the chance to victory in Caucasus war. And there was not the case of driving out 90% inhabitant of the conquest of areas outside Caucasus like Circassians anywhere. Deportation has occurred frequently in history of Russia, but it is difficult to find a case of driving an ethnic group out of country. But Tsar’s government regarded Circassians as the potential risks of the northwest Caucasus region, it decided to get rid of them permanently rather than to manage the risk element. And the result was the large-scale Circassian migration into the Ottoman Empire. Therefore in spite that the Circassian migration has elements such as ‘muhajirun’, ‘forced-muhajirun’ and ‘deportation’ in fact, there are more distinctive things like ‘the deportation of an ethnic unit’ or ‘an ethnic cleansing.’

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.