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Products for grant FEL-272668-21

Syrian Textile Workers in the Arab Atlantic, 1890-1934
Stacy Fahrenthold, Regents of the University of California, Davis

Grant details:

Unmentionables: smuggling and the Syrian lace trade in the borderlands (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Unmentionables: smuggling and the Syrian lace trade in the borderlands
Abstract: This paper examines the interrelationships between Syrian immigration, the textile industry, and smuggling in the US-Mexico borderlands between 1900 and 1934. Syrian immigration to Mexico increased significantly during this period, driven by the expansion of the Syrian diaspora’s textile industry and by tightening immigration restrictions across the hemisphere. Tracking one network of Syrian lace merchants also suspected of migrant smuggling, the paper lays out how “unmentionable” circuits of labor produced the laces peddlers carried as well as the illegal Syrian immigrant.
Author: Stacy Fahrenthold
Date: 04/29/2022
Location: Newberry Library, Chicago, IL
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Event website

Syrian merchants on Madeira Island (Blog Post)
Title: Syrian merchants on Madeira Island
Author: Stacy Fahrenthold
Abstract: Funchal, April 1922—arriving via steamship from New York City that month, Elias Mallouk was met at the port by a heckling crowd, an ominous start to a difficult year. As Madeira’s most prominent exporter of hand embroideries, Mallouk represented the industry in Funchal and abroad. He came to the island with a specific mission: to restructure the industry to favor American exporters, overwhelmingly Syrian immigrants from New York. Mallouk met with the U.S. Consul General, Eells Stillman, before proceeding to the Madeira Embroidery Club, a manufacturers’ association that governed the wages for embroidery workers. Assembling that April, the body ordered an unpopular thirty percent wage reduction, drawing threats of a general strike by the Madeiran women who sewed Mallouk goods in their homes across the island.
Date: 10/14/2022
Primary URL:
Blog Title: The Lausanne Project
Website: The Lausanne Project

Finding fraternity thousands of miles from home, in Syrian São Paulo (Blog Post)
Title: Finding fraternity thousands of miles from home, in Syrian São Paulo
Author: Stacy Fahrenthold
Abstract: Men could read philosophy or poetry, or even demand Syrian independence from French imperialism, but just as often they came to learn about job opportunities or simply while away time in the leather armchairs, amid the dark wood paneling and thick tobacco smoke.
Date: 02/25/2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: English
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Arabic
Blog Title: Syria Untold
Website: Syria Untold (feature on "Little Syrias" around the world)

Paper Syrians : Migrant Smuggling and the Textile Trade in the US-Mexico Borderlands (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Paper Syrians : Migrant Smuggling and the Textile Trade in the US-Mexico Borderlands
Author: Stacy Fahrenthold
Abstract: Laredo, 1918—at the outset, this was a typical crossing at the Texas border station. A man called Abdelnour appeared before officials at the station, representing himself as a peddler merchant doing business with Syrian textile firms in New York and Mexico City. Asked for papers, Abdelnour handed over two passports, Mexican and French. The first declared Abdelnour was known to the government in Mexico City, and that he was a non-naturalized foreign resident. The second proclaimed that as a Syrian, Abdelnour status as a “French-protected” merchant. Border officials examined the contents of Abdelnour’s suitcase: personal effects, odd lengths of ribbon, and a large sum of cash, no contraband. Meanwhile, he offered them letters of introduction written by two Syrian American silk kimono manufacturers in New York City, explaining he had come to Laredo to meet kimono dealers from those firms. The inspection dragged on; getting impatient, Abdelnour dramatically offered inspectors a second French passport—this one from the French Consulate in New York City—hoping to staged himself as a “known” friend to U.S. allies. And when that did not expedite things, he pushed one more document into the their hands: an old Ottoman passport, which the American official declined. Four passports and two letters of marque: inundated in documents of vouchsafe, the inspectors allowed Abdelnour into Laredo, where he proceeded to buy textile goods for delivery to Mexico before making his return trip the next morning. This border performance was a mundane one, repeated hundreds of times daily at crossing stations along the U.S.-Mexico border. Syrian pack peddlers couriered goods here during and after the First World War, conducting a carrying trade that represented the “final mile" of the mahjar’s transatlantic textile industry. In this border spectacle, Arab merchants and U.S. officials played their roles in a game of "papers please" amid the shifting geopolitics of the First World War.
Date: 11/11/2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Conference Program