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The Migration of Hanna Gaith

The Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies is excited to announce the release of The Migration of Hanna Gaith, a digital humanities project that traces Hanna’s journey to “Amirka” in 1904. Hanna Gaith left behind a detailed, handwritten diary that tells the story of his migration patterns, his desire to leave Yabroud (located in modern-day Syria), and the connections he built along the way. Hanna’s great niece, María Najle, graciously gifted the diary to the Khayrallah Center in 2023.

The project charts Hanna’s journey over land to Beirut, his voyages across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, his short sojourn in Brazil, and his final settlement in Argentina. Khayrallah Center Director, Dr. Akram Khater, highlights the stops detailed in Hanna’s diary, including his experiences as he rode trains, crossed waters, visited ports, and traveled in horse-drawn carriages. According to Dr. Khater, “Mapping Hanna’s journey allows us to see in greater relief what it took—not just logistically but also mentally and emotionally—for at least one person to move from one town to another halfway across the world.” 

Hanna traveled nearly 15,000 kilometers (~9320 miles) in the span of eight months, relying on a network of hotels, travel brokers, and smugglers to guide his travels. Dr. Khater notes how Hanna tapped into a transnational network of relatives, acquaintances, and other Arabic-speaking migrants for support as he navigated unfamiliar cities and new experiences during his lengthy journey.

Hanna Gaith’s migration journey is unique in how he responds to the cultural diversity he encounters in various places like Beirut, Marseille, and Brazil. Moreover, his writings capture the collective sense of what it means to leave behind a career, a family, and local familiarity to seek uncertain opportunities in a foreign land. 

Media Contact:

Dr. Akram Khater 

Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies