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00 # Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 2011 doi:10.1017/S0010417511000211
Failing to Stem the Tide: Lebanese Migration to French West Africa and the Competing Prerogatives of the Imperial State
A N D R E W KE R I M A R S A N
In the years before 1939, the functionaries of Afrique Occidentale Française, or AOF, as France’s West African possessions were known, consistently failed to introduce effective legislative controls upon Eastern Mediterranean migration under their purview.1 This was not for lack of trying; from 1905 onwards, administrators both in the territorial government of Guinea and in the GovernmentGeneral of the Federation in Dakar repeatedly attempted to close their gates to these interlopers of empire, most of them from present-day Lebanon, who first began to venture into West Africa in the last years of the nineteenth century. By the late 1930s, some six thousand citizens of the Mandatory states of Lebanon and Syria resided across AOF.2 Most worked as produce brokers,
Acknowledgments: The author wishes to thank the anonymous CSSH reviewers, as well as the participants in the “France and the Arab World” workshop held at the University of Edinburgh in September 2009, for their helpful comments. Simon Jackson and Ben White, in particular, proved insightful and generous readers. Megan Vaughan read through more versions of this paper than she would care to remember; her suggestions have proved invaluable. David Akin has been an understanding and sensitive editor, and I am grateful to him for clarifying both my thoughts and my muddy syntax. 1 The Federation of Afrique Occidentale Française was created in 1895 as a union of Senegal, Soudan, Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire. In 1902, its separate territorial administrations were subordinated to a Government-General, whose seat lay first in Saint-Louis, then from 1904 in Dakar. It was also in 1904 that Dahomey was included in this group of colonies. Mauritania and Niger remained territoires militaires, administered by military men answering to the Ministry of Defence until the 1920s and the 1940s, respectively, while the colony of Haute-Volta (present-day Burkina Faso) was created only in the 1920s. For accounts of the shifting makeup of AOF, see Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch and Odile Goerg, eds., L’Afrique Occidentale au Temps des Français: Colonisateurs et Colonisés, c. 1860–1960 (Paris, 1992); and Alice Conklin, A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Empire in France and West Africa, 1895–1930 (Stanford, 1997). 2 Jean-Gabriel Desbordes provides the aggregate figure of 5,792 for 1936, in L’Immigration Libano-Syrienne en Afrique Occidentale Française (Poitiers, 1938), 18. Robert Delavignette
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shopkeepers, and traders, buying up groundnuts, palm oil, or kola nuts from African producers, and supplying them in turn with consumer goods such as textiles and clothes, processed foodstuffs, alcohol, and matches.3 Despite their attempts to channel and stem this flow of men and women, AOF administrators proved unable to impose effective legislative checks upon their movements. This failure is particularly striking when one remembers that these years witnessed a formidable bolstering of the bulwarks against human movement across the world.4 It has recently been recognized that such efforts began well before the outbreak of global conflict in 1914. As early as the 1880s and 1890s, decades long regarded by scholars as the heyday of untrammeled migration, administrators and politicians in the United States, France, Australia, and South Africa sought to regulate the movements of itinerant peoples and migrants deemed “undesirable” on racial grounds.5 They did so not only by imposing restrictions upon entry, but also by wielding powers of expulsion.6 These measures grew increasingly rigid during the First World War, when passport controls were widely reintroduced, and were cemented in its wake by legislation like the American Reed-Johnson Acts of 1921 and 1924, which imposed a series of quotas upon migration from various parts of the world.7
estimates that 6,235 Lebanese and Syrians were dwelling in AOF at the close of the 1930s, in Les Vrais Chefs de l’Empire (Paris, 1939), 37. The slight discrepancy can be explained by lax methods of enumeration and the fluidity of this community. 3 On the history of these communities, see Andrew Arsan, “Lebanese Migrants in French West Africa, 1898–1939,” PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 2009; Saïd Boumedouha, “The Lebanese in Senegal: A History of the Relationship between an Immigrant Community and Its French and African Rulers,” PhD thesis, Centre for West African Studies, University of Birmingham, 1987; Salma Kojok, “Les Libanais en Côte d’Ivoire,” PhD thesis, Université de Nantes, 2002. 4 For broad surveys of these changes, see Adam McKeown, Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders (New York, 2008); and John Torpey, The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and the State (Cambridge, 2000), esp. chs. 4–5. 5 See, on the United States, Aristide Zolberg, “The Great Wall against China: Responses to the First Immigration Crisis, 1885–1925,” in Jan Lucassen and Leo Lucassen, eds., Migration, Migration History, History: Old Paradigms and New Perspectives (Berne, 1997), 291–315; and Adam McKeown, “Ritualization of Regulation: The Enforcement of Chinese Exclusion in the United States and China,” American Historical Review 108, 2 (2003): 377–403. For a comparative approach, see Patrick Weil, “Races at the Gate: Racial Distinctions in Immigration Policy: A Comparison between France and the United States,” in Andreas Fahrmeir, Olivier Faron, and Patrick Weil, eds., Migration Control in the North Atlantic World: The Evolution of State Practices in Europe and the United States from the French Revolution to the Interwar Period (New York, 2003), 271–97. On efforts to check the movements of itinerant peoples in metropolitan France, see Christophe Delclitte, “La Catégorie Juridique ‘Nomade’ dans la Loi de 1912,” Hommes et Migrations 1188–1189 (1995): 23–30. 6 Franck Caestecker, “The Transformation of Nineteenth-Century Expulsion Policy, 1880– 1914,” in Andreas Fahrmeir, Olivier Faron, and Patrick Weil, eds., Migration Control in the North Atlantic World (New York, 2003), 120–37. 7 For details of these measures, see Edward P. Hutchinson, Legislative History of American Immigration Policy, 1798–1965 (Philadelphia, 1981); and Aristide Zolberg, A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America (Cambridge, Mass., 2006).
Particularly important here was the unyielding position of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. and.”11 While governments everywhere were fastening their bolts.” to Migration Control in the North Atlantic World (New York. whose functionaries insisted that Lebanese and Syrian migrants be accorded lenient treatment both on grounds of diplomatic reciprocity and. Their failure was. these decades brought a shift from efforts to supervise migrants on a country’s own territory. 7. Olivier Faron. As John Torpey has argued. and with migrants who. this period witnessed the universalization of “the basic principles of border control. “The Archaeology of Remote Control. was quickly replicated by governments elsewhere.” which came to serve increasingly as the “foundation of sovereignty for all states within the [international] system. “Introduction.” in Charles Hirschman. at least on paper. sought to capitalize upon France’s political and sentimental commitments in the Eastern Mediterranean in order to obtain clemency. Innovations in one country were rapidly emulated and augmented by others keen to bolster their defenses against human movement. 2–3. 1999). and Patrick Weil. 9 Andreas Fahrmeir. which required ship passengers to present a visa granted by appropriate consular authorities before boarding. the Quai d’Orsay. and Patrick Weil. Philip Kasinitz. to checking their entry at the border. but rather of external pressures that significantly constrained their capacity to act. always quick to protect aggressively its own prerogatives. In the words of Adam McKeown. Migration Control in the North Atlantic World (New York. in essence.”10 By World War II. for it gave a central role to the strategy of “remote control. a consequence not of lack of administrative wherewithal. 10 McKeown. and Josh DeWind. Melancholy Order. “Matters of State. the administrators of AOF kept their doors reluctantly open.. 2003). 195–222. more significantly.” as Aristide Zolberg and others have named the screening of migrants at their point of departure. .8 This regulation.” in Andreas Fahrmeir. 75–76.9 Thus the early years of the twentieth century saw not simply a gradual erosion of the liberty of movement but also the proliferation of increasingly sophisticated administrative initiatives. “Matters of State: Theorizing Immigration Policy.” 71. when faced with unfavorable rulings. The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience (New York.452 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN The second of these measures was particularly significant. and finally toward remote control. “the wall-enclosed towns of the medieval period. Olivier Faron. eds. in order to protect France’s cherished interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. 2003). many states had come to resemble. This exercise elucidates ways in which imperatives of governance and diplomatic reciprocity could impede the 8 Aristide Zolberg.. 11 Zolberg. Much is revealed by a sustained examination of the frustrated legislative schemes of the administrators of AOF and their fraught exchanges with both the Quai d’Orsay. eds.
eds. I also want to flesh out our understanding of the ways in which colonial states operated. Paternal Privilege and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon (New York. . The French Empire between the Wars: Imperialism. as much as its superior position to the Ministry of Colonies.13 Indeed—and this is my second point—relations between the numerous departments that made up the French empire-state. Rather. and World Histories. 14 There has been a revival of interest in the Mandate states in recent years.. Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History (Durham. Politics and Society (Manchester. I do so in several ways that are closely interlinked. 125–43. Lebanon’s Quest: The Road to Statehood 1926–1939 (London. see Meir Zamir. 2003). My goal here is not simply to retell the familiar tales of inconsistency.12 Scholars of colonial statecraft can easily overlook that territorial administrations and those who staffed them did not dwell in isolation.” albeit one markedly unsystematic in its composition. I want to highlight an often-neglected aspect of this story: the ways in which administrative endeavor was stymied by prevailing reason of state. 2000).. “States.” in T. evasion. see Nadine Méouchy and Peter Sluglett. On the high political life of Lebanon and Syria. Empires. 27. 153–203. 2002). eds. France. They were but part of an overarching “imperial system. Ballantyne and A. ed. remaining to the end a patchwork of varying administrative arrangements and contested prerogatives. with its sprawling congeries of agencies and administrations. For two helpful collections of essays concerned with teasing out the particularities of French rule over Lebanon and Syria. N. or failed to operate. esp. I will describe the far-flung webs of interest in which administrators in any particular colonial territory were regularly enmeshed.14 Rather. Burton.. 13 Martin Thomas. Gary Wilder. 36. Kais Firro. Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights. ed. 1–15. I will argue that this unevenness in both the power of departments and the status of territories was a structural feature of France’s empire.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 453 seemingly impermeable controls upon human movement erected in the first half of the century. and fraud. 1997). Elizabeth Thompson. The French Imperial Nation-State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism between the Two World Wars (Chicago. See. 2005).C. 2005).. Knowledge. Syrie et Liban 1918–1946: Les Ambiguïtés et les Dynamiques de la Relation Mandataire (Damascus. and Political Imagination. See also Frederick Cooper. N. 2005). were marked by clear and deep asymmetries of power that allowed some to assert their own priorities of rule above those of others.. they were ambivalent annexes of 12 See Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton. 2004). 1. The Mandate states of Lebanon and Syria. History (Berkeley.C. The British and French Mandates in Comparative Perspective (Leiden. and “Unthinking French History: Colonial Studies beyond National Identity. meanwhile. 2005). or to underscore the eternal disjuncture between the neatness of paper schemes and the messy reality of practical inefficacy. determined the fate of the legal endeavors of the functionaries of AOF in the years before World War I.” in Antoinette Burton..” in Colonialism in Question: Theory. Empires. After the Imperial Turn: Thinking with and through the Nation (Durham. in particular. were no simple colonial territories. The density of the Quai d’Orsay’s strategic and affective investment in the Eastern Mediterranean. “Introduction: Bodies. which left their own powers severely curtailed by priorities well beyond their purview. Nadine Méouchy. First.
its beneficiaries.” Lebanon and Syria were considered in this regard—if not in other. at once within and outside its formal realm. for France’s Mandatory commitments enshrined their right to free movement within both metropolitan France and its empire. as did the Moroccans and Tunisians who nominally benefited from France’s protection. extra-European basis. 1987).” granting “foreign nationals from treaty countries … more substantive rights” than were accorded to “migrants from within the French empire. this right was accorded to them not as imperial subjects.”15 While the citizens of Lebanon and Syria in many regards bore the brunt of the post-war settlement. as Mary Dewhurst Lewis has stated. and their inhabitants as that most paradoxical of creatures— colonial citizens—they participated in efforts to “rework the Westphalian system … on a global. 15 Toby Dodge. On one hand. 2006). and Czechoslovakia. On the other. they were granted a privileged position within the complex “system of stratifications” by which various mobile Inventing Lebanon: Nationalism and the State under the Mandate (London. incoherent legal basis upon which rested the new migration regime brought into being in the interwar years by the French government’s ratification of a raft of bilateral agreements with countries such as Italy. 2003).” In their willingness to treat Lebanon and Syria as entities that stood apart from the main body of the French empire. 1999). 124–25. Syria and the French Mandate (Princeton. 17 Clifford Rosenberg. perhaps more significant domains of sovereignty—to be independent entities bound to France by treaties of reciprocity. in what was perhaps never more than wishful thinking. in one important respect. The relations of French functionaries to the constituents of these novel constructs were marked by a profound ambiguity. Inventing Iraq: The Failure of Nation-Building and a History Denied (London. . they were. Les Libanais et les Syriens de Guadeloupe (Paris.17 No doubt these agreements.16 But. as zones of uncontested French sovereignty. but as citizens of “most favored nations. 16 See Gérard Lafleur. Indeed. created “new inequalities among migrants” which “reflected the uneven power relations … between nations in Europe and … European countries and their colonies. 1. Spain. the tale I recount here of the frustrated endeavors of AOF functionaries might equally be told of the administrators of Guadeloupe and Martinique. they sought to craft these polities in the image of “the universal ideal of the sovereign state. Poland.” But equally striking is that Lebanese and Syrian migrants did not fall prey to such prejudicial measures. 69. who encountered many of the same difficulties in their efforts to erect boundaries against Eastern Mediterranean migrants. This is a pertinent reminder of the inconsistent. often considering them. Policing Paris: The Origins of Modern Immigration Control between the Wars (Ithaca. and Philip Khoury.454 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN empire. they retained a distinctly imperial attachment to the territories of the Eastern Mediterranean. The notion of a colonial citizenry is borrowed from Elizabeth Thompson. Instead. 2003). crucially.
in place of the more “paternalistic” treatment previously meted out by French administrators through their local intermediaries. 63. 2007). but they were accorded this right only because French officials believed them to be bound to France by the ties of imperial benevolence and appreciation.21 The duty of care and protection enshrined in the Mandate was one that functionaries at the Quai d’Orsay and the High Commission in Beirut seem to have taken seriously. the cultivation of feeling. eds. Lebanese and Syrian citizens participated in this new order by negotiating and 18 Mary Dewhurst Lewis. Imperial Benevolence: Making British Authority in the Pacific Islands (Honolulu.. Elizabeth Thompson has tracked the ways in which Mandatory rule over the states the French constructed from the smoldering remains of the Ottoman Empire was marked by the emergence of a “colonial civic order. Empire of Love: Histories of France and the Pacific (Oxford.” in David Nugent and Joan Vincent. always as much sentimental as it was strategic. charity. this process was by no means unilateral.22 As Thompson understood.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 455 populations were accorded social rights within the French body politic. 22 Thompson. imperial reason of state rested upon a “visceral register. Policing Paris. See also Rosenberg. 19–21. 1918–1940 (Stanford. was “bounded by and invested in demonstrations of love. and reciprocity.” remained “amorously defined. The Boundaries of the Republic: Migrants Rights and the Limits of Universalism in France. and a marked insistence upon the familial ties that ruled the relations between the Christian communities of the Eastern Mediterranean. if only because it permitted the management of affective states. 20 Matt Matsuda.” Its investment in the region. then. 3–4.” on the constant deployment and management of notions of honor. 6–7. A Companion to the Anthropology of Politics (Oxford. these bureaucrats remained committed in one form or another to the well being of their charges throughout the interwar years. in particular. 6–7.19 France’s imperial entanglement with the Eastern Mediterranean. 15.” Rather.18 The stance of the French functionaries of the Quai d’Orsay and the Mandatory High Commission toward their Lebanese and Syrian charges was. 40–41. Eastern Mediterranean migrants were granted freedom of movement as the citizens of nominally sovereign polities. 10.” Its contours were “discursively shaped” by an amorous lexicon of reciprocal feeling. … a ruse masking the dispassionate calculations that preoccupy states. 19 Jane Samson. on contemptuous anger or kindly concern. and Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Commonsense (Princeton. . 2004). 2005).” While administrative practice shifted perceptibly in the mid-1930s with the creation of a “colonial welfare state” providing “social benefits” directly. “Affective States. and France—their “tender mother” and secular protector.20 As Ann Laura Stoler has contended. though “coded in languages and practices of dominance and possession. Janus-faced. such harping upon affect was more than a “smokescreen of rule. 1998). 12. 1. 2009). 21 Ann Laura Stoler. Colonial Citizens.
” Journal of Modern History 80 (2008): 791–830. see “Colonial Law and Cultural Difference: Jurisdictional Politics and the Formation of the Colonial State. 60–61. 797. H. “Bureaucracy. 1905–1957. Not only were these often conducted directly between migrants (or those lending them assistance) and high functionaries like the governor-general or the minister of colonies. 25 Max Weber. migrants faced with orders of expulsion—and the Lebanese dignitaries and French functionaries whose assistance they enlisted—adroitly played the game of juridical politics. 196. continuing—as they had long done— to consider “individual. 3 (1999): 563–88. the latter found it difficult to frame their work within the “fixed rules” of “laws or administrative regulations.” in From Max Weber: Essays in Society. routine transactions conducted across the “desks and tables” of government offices. “Geographies of Power: The Tunisian Civic Order. 1881–1935. Scholars like Frederick Cooper and Peter Zinoman have in recent years come to query conceptions of colonial states as purposeful. see Mary Dewhurst Lewis.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 41. nagging at small tears in the legal fabric of empire until they succeeded in overturning the decisions of administrators in AOF. gathering taxes. 1996). but they also drew upon “Christian norms of charity far more than upon administrative principles.24 Despite the existence of a clear legal framework.. 1.” cases rather than reaching decisions based upon “abstract criteria. we can follow the uneven workings of a messy imperial order. 1991). riven with inconsistency and imbalances of power. little Weberian about a process in which administrators remained compelled by circumstance. 1991).23 As I will argue in the final part of this article. “The Secular State’s Islamic Empire: Muslim Spaces and Subjects of Jurisdiction in Paris and Algiers. and lacked the anonymous detachment of bureaucratic practice. trans. H. monolithic institutions capable not only of performing the essential functions of sovereignty— retaining the monopoly over violence. It also enables us to understand the ways in which Eastern Mediterranean migrants exploited this convoluted web of legal obligations and pragmatic considerations.456 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN defining their entitlements and rights through regular interactions with functionaries. 24 23 . and James McDougall. Ibid. For further uses of the term.” They retained many of the features of private correspondence in place of the form-filling and standardized language of bureaucratic process. Wright Mills. La Tyrannie du National: Le Droit d’Asile en Europe 1793–1993 (Paris. esp. See also Frederick Cooper. as Gérard Noiriel has observed. Gerth and C. (London. Jurisdictional Politics. enumerating people. Moreover. 260–63. Decolonisation and African Society: The Labour Question in French and British Africa (Cambridge. and Imperial Rivalry in the Mediterranean. This is a paraphrase of Lauren Benton’s highly useful notion of “jurisdictional politics”.”25 There was. 3 (2010): 553–80.26 By retracing the often-protracted tractations around migration controls and their application. transactions between officials and migrants and their intercessors remained profoundly “personal” throughout this period.” always “particular. and eds.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 52. identical” in all circumstances. 26 Gérard Noiriel.
meanwhile. As Torpey has pointed out. strained version of colonial modernity. jerking. far from diffusing through society. For discussions of distinctly colonial forms of rationality. 1994): 1533. In Selected Stories (Harmondsworth. it was “concentrated spatially and socially. . “Train From Rhodesia. 1989). with its “brutality. French Modern: Norms and Forms of the Social Environment (Cambridge. 2000).” Social Text 43 (1995): 191–220. David Scott “Colonial Governmentality. The Colonial Bastille: A History of Imprisonment in Vietnam.32 Such visions of colonial governance have increasingly come to hold sway in recent years. States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control (Princeton. 2002). The power— the capacity to act—of colonial functionaries was undermined not only by their administrations’ impecuniousness and their lack of numbers. which in some cases considerably narrowed the range of options available to them. and in need of a pump to push it from moment to moment and place to place. Zinoman has argued that French Indochina’s “decentralized and heterogeneous” penal system. and Heike Schmidt. and his endeavors to “escape” Third Republic politicking and create a new social order in Morocco. colonial administrations were not antiseptic laboratories of modernity in which administrators could escape the constraints of metropolitan governance31 so much as faltering. 2001). a state’s sovereignty does not rest simply upon 27 For a statement of this view. belabored enterprises. “Conflict and Connection: Rethinking African Colonial History. constantly frustrated by material circumstances and incapable of broadcasting—to borrow Jeffrey Herbst’s term—their authority beyond a few scattered points. Legality.” in Jan-Georg Deutsch. squalor and corruption … embodied the chaotic and unsystematic workings of the colonial state. 32 This quote is from Nadine Gordimer’s wonderfully uneasy short story. 1994). African Modernities: Entangled Meanings in Current Debates (Oxford. see John Comaroff. esp. 70.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 457 and of course securing the integrity of the territories under their supervision— but also of modifying and molding the behavior of their subjects. Lyautey. jostling. not very nourishing beyond such domains. 29 Peter Zinoman. see Paul Rabinow. 1862–1940 (Berkeley. Materiality. 1983).. “Governmentality. but also by external exigencies that affected what they could and could not do. its intimate failures and intrinsic weaknesses.28 Thus. 30 Frederick Cooper. 289–91. insidiously working away at the site of the individual. Peter Probst. gasping” declensions of the forms of state-craft elaborated in Europe during this time.” American Historical Review 99. The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective (New Haven. 28 Jeffrey Herbst. Mass. 1. But they illuminate only what we might call the inner story of colonial power. 50. has maintained that “power in colonial societies was more arterial than capillary”.”29 Cooper.”30 In this perspective. Modernity: On the Colonial State in Africa. eds. 31 For an examination of the hopes and ambitions of one such administrator. “creaking..” in which the locomotive stands as a synecdoche for a defective. 5 (Dec. see Crawford Young.27 They have instead insisted that they were messy congeries of competing agencies and agendas.
at least.458 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN its capacity to exercise authority within its realm. 50. often through jurisprudence” of a set of constraints upon the autonomy of the governors-general. 57. dismissed in particular instances. Sociétés Ouest-africaines et Ordre Colonial. William Cohen. AOF: Réalités et Héritages. commandants de cercle had no control over entry to the Federation. an administrator in pre-First World War Côte d’Ivoire before he became an influential ethnographer. 56–57. or the power to expel undesirable migrants. and are governed by a “set of norms and prescriptions to which individual [polities] must respond. that the creation of a powerful central executive in Dakar would wear down their own prerogatives. the “almost undisputed masters” of this empire in most matters.”33 This is all the truer of colonial administrations like those of AOF: the Federation’s territories were not islands of authority. before 1939. They could only pass to their superiors their recommendations. eds. More significant still. the lowly position of the Ministry of the Colonies within the “ministerial pecking order” left it at a distinct disadvantage in its dealings with other 33 34 Torpey. “Les Pouvoirs du Gouverneur Général de l’AOF. their interests and the ability of their administrators to reach decisions independent of the metropolitan state could be. the governors-general themselves. The deep-seated fears of both the governors of individual West African territories and functionaries at the Ministry of Colonies. 3. Invention of the Passport. It may well be that French commandants de cercle scattered through the administrative districts of AOF were. . were ultimately bound to the metropolitan government in matters of legislation. and Ibrahima Thioub. 35 Bernard Durand. 1997). Because they were but one part of this overarching entity.. self-contained entities cut off from wider currents. though nominally designated as “depositor[ies] of the powers of the Republic. These administrators. 1971). decision making remained highly centralized. Saliou M’Baye. but rather elements of a far more extensive imperial polity. 1895–1960 (Dakar.35 In turn. led to the “slow construction. These men gleefully seized upon the Government-General’s inability to broadcast its own directives to assert their own will. which would then travel up the administrative hierarchy before being decided upon by the governor-general himself in Dakar. Rulers of Empire: The French Colonial Service in Africa (Stanford. paying little heed to the “growing pile of official journals and explanatory circulars” that Maurice Delafosse.” were never in practice proconsuls with plenipotentiary authority over the territories in their trusteeship. affirmations of sovereign power can acquire meaning only with the assent of a wider society of states. recalled stashing beneath his head before he fell to peaceful sleep at night. and indeed were.” in Charles Becker. while they certainly did retain a degree of latitude. particularly those that might impact upon France’s foreign relations.34 However. In this area of policy.
19. 1982).” It consistently faced hostility from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that of the Interior. This was born of a deep-seated and growing concern for the safeguard of French political.” as a 1911 internal report put it—and by chronic internal discord. Kanya-Forstner. “Aux Bases d’une Intervention: Lyon et la Syrie en 1919. it was one that was never held solely by administrators in AOF. 1981). Formed only in 1894—until which point the Ministry of the Navy administered.38 While Wilhelmine Germany secured 36 Christopher Andrew and A. France’s overseas possessions—the fledgling colonial administration established at the Rue Oudinot was still regarded some twenty years later as the “Cinderella ministry. 38 Andrew and Kanya-Forstner. Spagnolo. “the inability of all its officials to arrive at general views or to coordinate their efforts” became infamous in Parisian administrative circles. William Shorrock.” Historical Journal 29 (1986): 103–35. See also Colin Burrows. In the years before the establishment of the Mandate. functionaries at the Rue Oudinot could hardly hope to provide any tangible opposition to the desires of their counterparts at the Quai d’Orsay. . 41–86. 37 Torpey. 4–5. both of which were disdainful of this poor and somewhat embarrassing relation and wary of any attack upon their prerogatives in North Africa. France Overseas. Invention of the Passport. The Ministry of the Colonies was further hampered by its own chaotic organization—a “muddled assemblage of small bureaucratic contrivances. 21. Dominique Chevallier. and religious interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. that formidable institutional impediments stood in the way of any attempts by administrators in AOF to develop a migration policy away from the scrutiny and strictures of their superiors at the Ministry of Colonies. as Torpey has maintained. 1861–1914 (London. French Imperialism in the Middle East: The Failure of Policy in Lebanon and Syria 1900–1914 (Madison. the monopoly to authorize and restrict movement must be considered an essential attribute of the state. France and Ottoman Lebanon. “‘Mission Civilisatrice’: French Cultural Policy in the Middle East. In particular.36 Under such circumstances. educational. John P. or. and militated against the imposition of a special regime regulating the entry of Eastern Mediterranean migrants to AOF.37 They had to pay heed to the will of metropolitan agencies of state. 1860–1914. 1977). then. the Quai d’Orsay. 1976). crucially. France’s vaunted moral protectorate over the Maronite and Greek Catholic populations of Greater Syria—long a cornerstone of its policy in the region—took on greater significance as its position in the Ottoman Empire came under increasing pressure from foreign competition. S. 42. If. the Quai d’Orsay opposed the introduction in AOF of prohibitive measures targeting Eastern Mediterranean migrants. who effectively lacked the capacity to decide alone on the legal status of Lebanese migrants. There can be no doubt.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 459 departments of state. France Overseas: The Great War and the Climax of French Imperial Expansion (London. with a few exceptions. commercial.” in Villes et Travail en Syrie du XIXe au XXe Siècles (Paris.
I: Introduction Générale (Paris. English is certainly better known than French.”42 As French colonial propagandists and Catholic missionaries never ceased to reiterate. Italian is making rapid progress at certain points along the coast. French diplomats saw their nation’s presence in the Eastern Mediterranean as inextricably “linked to favorable relations with their political clients in Lebanon. when others elsewhere richer and more powerful bowed their heads. stressing equally the “love for France” with which the towns of Mount Lebanon “humm[ed] and vibrat[ed]” and France’s own obligations toward their Uniate inhabitants. Haifa. pamphlets. 41 Shorrock. and various other operations. the lives of our own fathers … 39 Comité de Défense des Intérêts Français en Orient. simply by holding out. since. As Maurice Pernot. par Maurice Pernot (Paris. see also Jacques Thobie’s immense. On French economic activity in the Ottoman Empire.”39 This was all the more worrying because. 1925). but also in financial institutions such as the Imperial Ottoman Bank. 43 René Ristelhueber.”43 In a series of articles. French Imperialism. 1977). and Jaffa. 42 Gabriel Hanotaux and Alfred Martineau. from afar. 1.44 As Gabriel Hanotaux put it. the Ottoman Empire was. and above all. Italian and Anglo-American missionary establishments threatened the spiritual monopoly of French education. 5. as John Spagnolo has noted. a territory for the radiation of its intellect and the expansion of its culture. Elsewhere. . 1929). their religion. He insisted that France simply could not relinquish its longstanding obligations towards them. 40 Spagnolo. and in mines. whose friendship for France has been handed down from father to son for twelve centuries … lived. which controlled the state tobacco monopoly and a number of public utilities and railway companies.”40 France’s economic interests were dispersed widely throughout what remained of the empire: it held a considerable stake in the Ottoman public debt. we are holding our own. “not merely a field of economic activity for France. Tripoli. 44 Maurice Barrès. where we assume our influence to be preponderant.” were indissolubly bound to France. historians and journalists elaborated in florid terms a narrative of an enduring and secular reciprocal friendship. Rapport sur un Voyage en Egypte et en Turquie d’Asie (Janvier-Août 1912). 138–39. road construction. in port concessions at Beirut. declared in 1913. France and Ottoman Lebanon. and books. Les Traditions Françaises au Liban (Paris. 1. but nowhere are we gaining ground. “These peasants. their race. for many of those most intimately involved in furthering French interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.460 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN economic concessions like the Baghdad railway. Vol. It [was] also. Histoire des Colonies Françaises et de l’Expansion de la France dans le Monde. scrupulously detailed Intérêts Français dans l’Empire Ottoman (1895–1914) (Paris. the editor of the Journal des Débats. vol. xvi–xvii. 224.41 However. the Maronites “who saved their liberty. 70. 1923). “In certain parts of Lebanon. 1913). Une Enquête aux Pays du Levant (Paris. “None of the Catholic communities of the Orient calling upon France’s protection since the Crusades has shown greater gratitude and devotion than the Maronites.
always and in spite of everything [falls] the friendship of souls. “Affective States. declared.48 Such an expansive sense of sentimental commitment informed policymaking at the highest levels. “It is in the Mediterranean that can be found the axis of French [strategy]. 5. led both statesmen and thinkers to insist that France’s position in the Eastern Mediterranean rested upon sentimental ties to its Christian populations.” in René Ristelhueber. 47 Jules Cambon. Etienne Flandin. for figures like Maurice Barrès. and an idealist understanding of the world.” it conceded the “primacy of force and business … but to us. Les Traditions Françaises au Liban (Paris. to the West. .”47 Moreover. who traveled to the Eastern Mediterranean on the eve of global conflict. one of the architects of France’s Syrian policy during the First World War. my italics. they possess a part of our thoughts. 183–84. through Syria. France has never abandoned them. Groupe Sénatorial pour la Défense des Intérêts Français à l’Etranger. 49 Stoler.”46 However. 76.49 The majority of those involved in formulating the Quai d’Orsay’s line on the Middle East were members of the Comité de l’Asie Française. and she will not abandon them. all in all. Le Diplomate (Paris. Sénateur (Paris.” was not simply difficult to square with the sight “in Canada. vol. our will.” Jaurès’ supposed insistence that “it is both right and inevitable that intellectual preponderance should belong to those who are economically dominant” was. through Algeria. mere power alone could not suffice. As George Leygues. Lebanon and Palestine. vol. One of its poles passes. The other must be to the east. to Barrès. and the prestige of the trader and the engineer. 1915). “‘political rationalit[y]’ … that strategically reasoned. 46 Quoted in Etienne Flandin. in the Philippines. “To others. Enquête. both wrongheaded and dangerous. administrative common sense. according to which only economic ascendancy. our heart. 1926). the “belief in a material law of the world. vi.” was “grounded in” affect and its cultivation. it also threatened to undermine the edifice of France’s “spiritual power” in the world. could generate spiritual actions. Strategic considerations obviously figured in such a political calculus. ours. dedicated to furthering France’s interests from Asia 45 Gabriel Hanotaux. a set of deeply-rooted conceptions of the Orient as an inherently spiritual place. 1. of an intensive commerce with the United States [which] has hardly affected moral dispositions”. After all. Tunisia. “Préface. 1925). 6. and Morocco.” making the “religious protectorate a considerable force which benefited France’s moral influence and. 48 Barrès.”45 These words were more than fig leaves covering the cruder designs of power. political authority. France’s entanglement with the world was quite distinct from that of other states. sometimes. “religion and nationality” were “indistinguishable … in the Orient. for as Ann Laura Stoler has suggested. 2.” 5. hence. Rapport sur la Syrie et la Palestine Présenté par M.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 461 they are. for as Jules Cambon put it.
Beirut. served in the pre-war years as president of the Comité d’Orient. but was also entirely consistent with the stance the ministry had adopted throughout the 1880s and 1890s in the face of proposals to implement a discriminatory tax on foreigners working on French territory. France Overseas. would be tantamount to a self-imposed exile from the community of nations. The Quai d’Orsay’s position on Lebanese migration to AOF in the years before World War I not only reflected the Middle Eastern commitments of its senior functionaries. together with France’s diplomatic obligations to the Ottoman Empire. These ties and convictions. 84–85. France Overseas. 170. led the ministry’s functionaries in Paris. who regarded themselves as the spokesmen of the peoples of Lebanon and Syria and lobbied the Quai d’Orsay on their behalf. “Robert de Caix et Louis Massignon: Deux Visions de la Politique Française au Levant en 1920. eds. 51 50 . whose vision of a constellation of statelets under French tutelage was implemented in the years after 1920.462 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN Minor to Japan. Figures like Flandin and Leygues. 28. and was one of the founders of the Comité de Défense des Intérêts Français au Levant. had not only campaigned actively before 1914 for the reform of the Algerian indigénat. 27–28. apart from France’s other possessions. “a staunch supporter of imperial expansion in the Middle East” as Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1917 and 1920..” in Nadine Méouchy and Peter Sluglett. 53 Gérard Noiriel. These proposals. who argued it would contravene the clauses guaranteeing free circulation included in agreements with a number of other states. meanwhile. maintained one legal scholar. To introduce such legislation.52 These men were actively committed to protecting France’s interests in the Middle East. Gérard Khoury.53 The need to respect the binds of diplomatic reciprocity was repeatedly cited in the years before 1914 by both the Quai d’Orsay and administrators in West Africa as a significant impediment to any exclusionary measures targeting Andrew and Kanya-Forstner.51 Stephen Pichon. and keen to stress reciprocal ties to the region’s Uniate communities and to cajole and placate their representatives—men like the émigré journalists Shukri Ghanim and Georges Samna. Le Creuset Français: Histoire de l’Immigration XIXe–XXe Siècles (Paris. but had also become convinced that Syria should have a far more liberal regime than that in place in French North Africa—one standing. 1988). so prominent in the war years. were repeatedly vetoed by the ministry’s officials. in other words. and Damascus to obfuscate as best they could the efforts of their counterparts in Dakar and Conakry to erect boundaries against Eastern Mediterranean migration.50 Their numbers included prominent figures like François Georges-Picot and Robert de Caix. 52 Andrew and Kanya-Forstner. Istanbul. The British and French Mandates. and basking in the gentle light of a particularly benevolent mode of rule. though enormously popular with parliamentarians.
to assimilate to its own workers citizens of the signatory states [residing] in its overseas possessions. 55 Desbordes. including Turkey. 1911.” he insisted. Delcassé went on to fudge significantly this seemingly unequivocal line.” The French “protectorate” over the Maronites “in the Levant. “a/s de l’Emigration Syrienne vers la Guinée et de la mission de M. (1918). In practice. Dakar. Centre d’Accueil et de Recherche des Archives Nationales. understood.” it fitted too well into France’s “traditions of humanity” to be “discarded entirely. he acknowledged. n. who will not fail” to complain of measures which. it was forced upon French agents in Latin America who were pressed into playing the role of protectors by the repeated entreaties of Eastern Mediterranean migrants themselves. . 115. was simply a “religious protectorate. may be contrary to the clauses of our treaties with foreign powers.d. Ancienne Série (hereafter CARAN AOF/AS/) 21 G 33. As early as 1904. “if too rigorous. 53–54.” Moreover. a Maronite is no more than an ordinary Ottoman subject.” Damascus. by conventions agreed with most of the Powers.55 For. 56 Paris.” severely curtailed the “choice” of means available to “our colonial administration. It is true that this duty does not seem to have been a deliberate policy choice. or even weakened.”54 These obligations effectively prevented the creation of a special tax on Ottoman subjects in French West Africa. whatever their religion” as “French protégés. Turquie/Syrie-Liban/Nouvelle Série (hereafter MAE T/SL/NS). French representatives had “often … intervened to protect these Orientals. as France’s consul in Damascus. he continued in more pragmatic terms. our agents have no rights to act on his behalf. which has no purpose beyond this region”: “In another country. L’Immigration. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. Couget. Couget to Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA). by our refusal to grant our unofficial protection to these Orientals when this duty is in keeping 54 Paris. “the protests of … Syrian migrants. but also inconsistent with its own regular interventions on behalf of Lebanese migrants elsewhere in the world.”56 The stringent measures colonial administrators continued to press for may well have seemed to the Quai d’Orsay not merely undesirable on grounds of diplomatic reciprocity. 18 Apr.” However. Poulet. the Ministry of Colonies advised Governor-General Roume that the French government had “undertaken.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 463 Eastern Mediterranean migrants. Governor-General (GG) to Ministry of Colonies (MC). and he himself has no right whatsoever to request their official protection. a measure Roume had sought to implement in order to stem the growing influx of Eastern Mediterranean migrants. “The traditions binding us to Syria’s populations are too precious for us to run the risk of seeing them broken. Fonds AOF. Such requests had become so frequent by the beginning of the twentieth century that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Delcassé thought it necessary in 1902 to clarify that France could not “officially and regularly” consider “the Syrians or other Ottoman subjects.” While such a course of action could only be considered a “favor.
” Paris. “Extrait d’un rapport adressé par M. In 1903. but also in their own fields of operation in Latin America. more rarely. “Race.” sought to ensure repeal of an act that imposed upon all Syrians resident in Haiti the liquidation and closure of their wholesale and retail businesses and allowed them to trade only on consignment. Desprez seems to have been particularly keen to indulge the “conviction. This directive served only to rubberstamp prevailing practice among French plenipotentiaries. Desprez’s ultimately unsuccessful attempts to safeguard the commercial interests of Eastern Mediterranean migrants arose not in response to the instructions of the Quai d’Orsay. 1903. . since such a measure effectively recognized the right to official protection of Ottoman subjects. Paris. Delcassé. he effectively treated these migrants not as nationals of another power.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 4. 1902). for all his evasions. that “they will find in Haiti” a “degree of protection at the very least equal to that which they receive in their country of origin. In doing so. Mesures prises contre les Syriens par le Gouvernement Haïtien. citing “the instructions of the Department [of Political Affairs] regarding the unofficial protection granted by the French government to the Syrian populations established in the Americas. see David Nicholls. 29 Jan. Paul Desprez. Delcassé. Paris.”57 The informal assistance in which Delcassé acquiesced was. which often went far beyond the bounds of appropriate behavior dictated by the Quai d’Orsay. Boulard-Ponqueville acknowledged that Eastern Mediterranean migrants. 7 Mar. the “unofficial protection of Syrian Ottoman subjects” offered “real political interest” not simply in the Ottoman Empire. Delcassé had explicitly circumscribed the keeping of registers. France’s envoy to Port-au-Prince. Delcassé.58 However. 1902. with their constant petty requests for assistance. “No Hawkers and Pedlars: Levantines in the Caribbean. and Brenda Gayle Plummer.” International History Review 3 (1981): 517–39. 29 Jan. but rather as his own consular charges. but had gone so far as to issue some with passes to the “interior of the country” and. à M. On the Eastern Mediterranean communities of Haiti.464 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN with our obligations towards the Ottoman government. it should be “scrupulously avoided” beyond the direct confines of the territory where it was issued (MAE T/SL/NS 108. Ministre de France en Haïti. and stressed that while the granting of passports was legally permissible. MAE NS/Haïti/10. France’s ambassador to Colombia. “Note pour la Direction des Affaires Politiques. He had not only kept a register of Ottoman subjects who had presented themselves to the French legation.” which all new arrivals from the Eastern Mediterranean seemed to share. could easily be seen as little more than pesky irritants. Ministre des Affaires Etrangères. little more than a thinly disguised attempt to spread the blanket of French protection over those Christian Ottoman citizens living far beyond the confines of their Eastern Mediterranean homelands. 12 Sept. 1903–1934. 59 MAE T/SL/NS 108.” Port-au-Prince. 57 58 MAE T/SL/NS 108. travel documents to France and Beirut. Paul Desprez. 4 (1981): 415–31. Nationality and Trade in the Caribbean: The Syrians in Haiti. but he maintained that these men and women.”59 But for other plenipotentiaries like Boulard-Ponqueville. but out of a longstanding engagement with Haiti’s Eastern Mediterranean population. 1902.
Daughton. 15 Nov. 1906. These measures were repealed by an Arrêté on 18 Jan. Bogota. but also of governments whose citizens are subject to the ordinary regulations of international law. “When Argentina Was ‘French’: Rethinking Cultural Politics and European Imperialism in Belle-Epoque Buenos Aires.61 Thus it is little surprise that the Quai d’Orsay should have acted to overturn measures in France’s own West African possessions when these seemed injurious to both the ministry’s “obligations” to the Porte and its “duty” to its Eastern Mediterranean protégés. 1905.” were both incapable of effectively regulating immigration. On France’s cultural policies in Latin America in this period. the lieutenant-governor of Guinea. P. 14 Jan. helping to carry France’s reputation to the farthest reaches of countries where its prestige “tends unfortunately to slip away a little further by the day. They required all decisions affecting foreign relations to receive the assent of the governorgeneral. working to buttress what diplomats regarded as its once-uncontested commercial reputation. and to register within twenty-four hours of arrival with the local police or commandant de cercle—only upon fulfillment of this obligation would individuals be granted a residence permit. but he argued that these measures constituted a breach of federal legislative arrangements. The first of these required all migrants to present a passport upon entry. 25 Mar. he felt that these two acts. could lend the Republic invaluable assistance. The second decree forbade all ship captains to allow their passengers to disembark without explicit authorization from the local authorities. “a/s d’arrêtésrelatifs à l’embarquement et au séjour des étrangers en Guinée. or with which we have trade or shipping treaties. they could also serve as agents of the French civilizing mission in other parts of the world. and recorded in the Journal on 30 Jan. GG to Lieutenant-Governor (LG) of Guinea. Diplomatic reasons of state again compelled Roume to act in 1906. “because they target all foreigners without any distinction of origin or situation. and he repealed two decrees instituted by Frézouls. 1905. 63 CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 36. not only of individuals. that had regulated the landing and residence of foreigners in the colony. would be quick to seize upon.62 Roume did not “dispute the utility” of “safeguard[s]” against the entry of undesirable migrants.”60 For some amongst the Quai d’Orsay’s agents. and stipulated that the provision of punishments for offences beyond the ordinary purview of criminal law needed “the approbation of metropolitan authorities.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 465 with their commercial links to compatriots in France and preference for French manufactured goods. 62 Journal Officiel de la Guinée Française. Eastern Mediterranean migrants were not just passive pupils of French civilization and recipients of republican benevolence. 1906. should we abandon it. Boulard-Ponqueville to MFA. see J.” Journal of Modern History 80 (2008): 831–64.”63 As Jean-Gabriel Desbordes was to point out.” Dakar. these 60 61 MAE T/SL/NS 108.” Their commercial activities could serve as a “powerful means of propaganda and influence which others. 1902. bound to France by secular ties of sympathy. . then. and “likely to give rise to the objections. 1906. Arrêtés passed on 9 Nov.” Further.
insisting that Ottoman subjects “enjoying the treatment [accorded to nationals of] a most favored nation. applied at the federal level some six months later. and 1 May Desbordes.65 This. Dakar.”64 Diplomatic imperatives dictated their abrogation. their apparently general character was an administrative ruse disguising a tightly circumscribed exclusionary measure. was turned away by an intransigent Quai d’Orsay. certified.”66 This statement unambiguously placed reason of state ahead of the concerns of colonial administrators. Camille Guy. 59. that imposed a series of stringent checks upon new migrants to Guinea. Bulletin du Comité de l’Afrique Française 21. (1918). 55. Such failures did not prevent administrators in French West Africa from presenting a new scheme for the imposition of a special tax on Ottoman subjects to their superiors at the Rue Oudinot in 1909. 58. Journal Officiel de la Guinée Française.. 74. Guinea’s new lieutenant-governor. fn. and that no consideration could allow at the present time any modification to the obligations incumbent upon the French government by dint of our treaties with foreign powers.69 However. as Ponty made clear. 15 Dec. as Desbordes observed. L’Immigration.” They therefore could not be charged with singling out “Syrian” migrants upon entry or of violating international obligations.67 Under its terms. should be assimilated to our own nationals in our overseas possessions.” he informed the lieutenant-governors of the Federation that the principal objective of the legislation was “to check 64 65 66 67 68 Desbordes. Angoulvant to MC.” which threatened to affect France’s “foreign relations. residency would only be granted to those who could provide a birth certificate and an extrait de casier judiciaire confirming their unblemished criminal record.” They were also required upon arrival to deposit the costs of their repatriation with immigration officials. 1911. 1910. 1929). and accompanied by a photograph.d. William Ponty. L’Afrique Occidentale Française (Paris. Guy—profoundly hostile to the Lebanese and Syrians. Ibid.68 These measures. translated into French.466 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN measures were “more than a simple check”. The obduracy of the Quai d’Orsay could not prevent Camille Guy. from finding in late 1910 a way to circumvent the obligations of international convention. Arrêté of 7 Dec. they “constituted … a veritable regulation of foreign immigration. 6 (June 1911): 202. too. Passengers wishing to disembark were now also to be subjected to a compulsory medical examination to check that they were free of “epidemic and contagious diseases. which reiterated the stance it had relayed to the Ministry of Colonies in 1904. n. 69 . 3. L’Immigration. 1910. In a circular in which he sought to elucidate “the exact scope of the new regulations. whom he was later to deem the “Chinamen of West Africa”—implemented a decree. With the support of Roume’s successor. could be seen as doing no more than establishing “general administrative and sanitary control[s]. CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 33.
GG to LGs. functionaries should not hesitate to exceed the letter of the law in their efforts to stem this particular stream of migration.” prompted. and GG to LGs. It was augmented in May 1918 by a set of restrictions upon the circulation of “Syrians and Ottoman subjects. and. GG to MC. while their movements and correspondence were to be closely controlled.” “Asiatics” whose “mercantile ways” posed a grave threat to the growth of “French and indigenous trade. Thus. 1 Aug. 9 Nov. despite its stringent requirements. 71 CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 34. it failed to stop the constant stream of new arrivals from the Eastern Mediterranean.” Dakar. who rapidly found means of supplying proof of their identity and probity. 1918. he insisted. they should take “particular care” to apply these measures “without pause” to Eastern Mediterranean migrants and call upon police commissioners to “verify meticulously” the required documents. 1918. Ottoman subjects were forbidden to acquire land for the duration of the hostilities.71 This ban was an essential element of a raft of prohibitive measures introduced in the spring and summer of that year in order to trammel the activities of these “undesirable Lebanese. he intimated. under wartime provisioning regulations. règlementant l’immigration étrangère en AOF.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 467 Syrian immigration. Dakar. and LG of Senegal to GG. 24 May 1918.”74 70 CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 36. Dakar. belatedly. In addition. should not “burden” with unnecessary procedures passengers whose “identity and morality” they had little reason to doubt. Angoulvant seems to have intended his actions to achieve nothing less than the “elimination of Syrian business. 1918. . by the war. to dismiss cases arbitrarily in order to check the number of Ottoman subjects entering the Federation. in doing so. GG to LG of Guinea. GG to MC. 73 CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 33. 11 Nov. “a/s des étrangers. 24 May 1918. 74 CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 33.”72 Under these measures. 72 CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 33.70 This legislation remained in place until 1921 but. now conducted.” Dakar.” Officials. GG to LGs. “a/s des Syriens. Governor-General Angoulvant urged territorial administrators to turn away all requests for travel. Rather. 13 June 1918. with a single purchaser: the colonial state itself. 24 May 1911. save in cases of dire medical need or departure from the colonies. calling upon friends and relatives to vouch for them and to provide the costs of repatriation.” Dakar.73 Angoulvant also pressed the Ministry of Colonies to accede to his plans to prevent Eastern Mediterranean traders from participating in the annual traite in Senegalese groundnuts. Observing that the “frequent” journeys these individuals undertook “for extremely diverse and trivial causes” were intolerable in wartime. he called upon administrators to remind physicians charged with carrying out medical examinations that they “should not lose sight of the great powers entrusted in them to protect the colony” against the deleterious consequences of migration. Dakar. “a/s de la prochaine campagne d’arachides.” Dakar. “a/s de l’arrêté du 1er mai 1911.
their ingratitude belying the myth of an enduring and reciprocal friendship between the peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean and their secular protector. before the war. Dakar.”75 The governor-general called for the imposition of conscription upon all migrants resident in AOF for over a year.468 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN “Small vexatious measures. had “scraped by in their miserable shops” to accumulate vast sums and acquire “sumptuous establishments. 1918. seemed utterly beyond the pale to Angoulvant. CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 33.” and “had trafficked in personal effects.” he argued. They had also. GG to MC. and hidden absentee conscripts. For Angoulvant.” It also might prove fitting punishment for the disdain with which migrants had greeted the call to arms issued by the Légion d’Orient. created in 1916 to incorporate young Lebanese and Syrian men willing to fight under the French flag. and cowardice. the colony could no longer tolerate the “boundless … arrogance” and “insolent luxury” of the Syrians. dishonesty.” and “the vulgar fanfare of their pleasures” that were an insult to “our mourning. itself founded upon an essentially affective assessment of the two undertakings. While Frenchmen were struggling to secure the “liberty” of Lebanon and Syria. they had transformed their shops into “veritable desertion agencies. 2 Mar.” and whose fraudulent ways were an “insolent and permanent challenge to public morality and commercial probity.” Perhaps most significantly. and to free these lands from the “yoke of Turkish tyranny. 15 Aug. would no longer do in the face of a population who “oppose our hygiene and public health regulations … with an inertia equaled only by their esteem for dirt. it might be argued. Migrants had reneged upon their obligation toward France by their stubborn refusal to take up arms in the Légion d’Orient. and had accumulated vast sums by means both fair and. These complaints were informed by a keen sense of the respective merits of France’s civilizing mission in the Eastern Mediterranean and West Africa. there could be no doubt that African indigènes 75 76 CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 33. more often than not.” migrants in AOF had profited from the absence of competitors gone to the front. 1918.76 Such behavior. their “noisome opulence” so profoundly at odds with the “contemplative dignity of the European and indigenous population. Dakar. was the sole adequate response to the constant abuses which had allowed men who. in doing so. he maintained. This.” whose “noisy … sometimes bloody … quarrels … disturbed the public peace. sold disguises. Not only did their constant rumor-mongering and the suspicions of spying which hung over some of them mark them as a threat to the “security” of the colony.” While these arguments echoed the complaints of those colons and propagandists who had campaigned in the years before 1914 for prohibitive measures against Eastern Mediterranean migrants. . foul. made a show of their deep-rooted opportunism. GG to MC. its apprehensions and hopes. Angoulvant said that the latter’s presence was to be feared all the more in wartime.
. and insisted that French functionaries could not “begrudge the Syrians of Dakar and other towns [in West Africa] their failure to enlist.” but it was prevented from doing so by the international 77 78 79 Stoler.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 469 were “appropriate carriers and recipients” of the sentiments of patriarchal benevolence which framed the mission civilisatrice77. “by political necessities of an imperious kind. as in the past. For all the wounded eloquence of Angoulvant’s repeated entreaties to the Rue Oudinot. who resided on French territory. not to extend the status of enemy subjects to the “numerous Ottoman subjects. functionaries there refused to acquiesce to his demands for the introduction of conscription and the wholesale exclusion of Eastern Mediterranean migrants from the produce trade.” The decision to maintain the special protection these individuals had been accorded in the past had been vindicated. While particular cases were open to consideration. The Quai d’Orsay responded to even these attenuated measures by issuing Angoulvant a severe. if diplomatically worded. and most importantly. for the most part not Muslims. and Francophile sentiments were well known. constitute a grave political fault. The Syrian colonies of French West Africa therefore have a right. Paris.” Not only had the “Government of the Republic” not adopted “at any moment” this “attitude towards the Syrians. Armenians. and other non-Muslim Ottoman subjects resident in the métropole. MC to GG. MC to GG. 13 Nov. “general principles affecting all Syrians” were inadmissible so long as “allied aliens” remained untouched by similar measures. 1918. the Directorate of Commercial and Political Affairs reminded its counterparts at the Rue Oudinot that the ministry had decided. Paris.” insisted this missive. 40. and whose respectability. rebuke. CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 39. to benefit from our kindness. Along the Archival Grain.” “It seemed consistent. upon the end of diplomatic relations with the Ottoman state. CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 33. over the course of hostilities. but rather as “special protégés” enjoying a certain degree of latitude. morality. 25 May 1917. but one in which the prohibition of movement took on a central importance. that “any measure intended to abrogate or even to restrict our benevolent measures towards our traditional clients would not only be discordant with our traditions of generosity but also.78 The imposition of such severe impediments upon their commercial operations was prevented by the ambivalent legal status of Lebanese and Syrian migrants in particular—they were considered as neither allies nor enemies by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Interior. In a memorandum drafted in November 1918.79 Angoulvant found himself compelled to implement a far less substantial set of strictures than he desired.” The memorandum further brushed away Angoulvant’s request for conscription. Syrians were worthy only of contempt for the insolent indifference with which they treated the French authorities.
MC to GG. or the lands of migration.” Such an argument was. MFA. Indeed.”80 who could not be blamed for their immunity. 1918. even by indirect means.d. Paris. 1918).470 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN agreements of The Hague. n. but the establishment of a French Mandate over Lebanon and Syria in the early 1920s consecrated the Quai d’Orsay’s commitment to a migration policy of the utmost tolerance both in the metropole and colonial territories like AOF.” Though careful not to disavow completely the measures Angoulvant had sought to implement—insisting that the Department of Political Affairs had “long since” been aware of the problems created by the “introduction” of Eastern Mediterranean migrants to AOF—the minister of colonies was compelled to recognize the paramount importance of the exigencies of Middle Eastern policy. while acknowledging that criticism of the Syrians could be “justified by their lack of hygiene … and their often disloyal competition. In a letter to Angoulvant bundled together with this reprimand. was no longer seen in the interwar years as a “favor” to be granted at the discretion of France’s 80 CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 34. Paris. France’s precarious position in the Eastern Mediterranean was foremost in the minds of functionaries in 1918. who was in no position to adopt a divergent course of action. .81 It is clear that both the Ministry of Colonies and the Government-General of AOF had little choice but to bow to the diplomatic imperatives that the Quai d’Orsay defended so vigorously. “The Syrian question in French West Africa cannot be divorced from France’s policy in the Orient generally. intervention on behalf of Lebanese and Syrians in the mahjar. Direction des Affaires Politiques et Commerciales. Its author intimated that the course of action the governor-general had contemplated was driven by little more than resentment against a “state of affairs created by conflict and not by the Syrians. the memorandum made clear. These. which forbade the executive “to corral. (Nov.” stressed. with its claims to control over Bilad al-Sham threatened by both the rival claims of Sharif Faisal and the recalcitrance of the local population. the minister of colonies. held an authority far superior to that of a simple colonial governor. 81 CARAN AOF/AS/21 G 34. and stated unequivocally that Angoulvant had no grounds for considering the implementation of measures that were both rejected by the metropolitan government and contrary to international law. nationals of an enemy state into serving under our flag. and threatens to hinder the actions of the Government of the Republic at a time when it is striving to attach the populations of Syria” to France by a “definitive settlement. it could be said. 23 Nov. The attitude of local authorities in our West African possessions can indeed not fail to have repercussions on this question. and more particularly in Syria. not mere bluster but rather a means of putting Angoulvant in his place.
Empires of Intelligence: Security Services and Colonial Disorder after 1914 (Berkeley. but rather as an obligation dictated by the terms of Article 3 of the League of Nations Mandate. 214. 144. you cease to live in French territory. which considered “nationals of Syria and the Lebanon living outside the limits of the territory” as being “under the diplomatic and consular protection of the Mandate. 2008). which were regarded as at once French possessions and foreign states. . Policing Paris. Empires of Intelligence. medical certificates. The ambiguous status of Morocco certainly matched that of Lebanon and Syria. Tunisia. had risen dramatically in number. but this rarely afforded its constituents any privileges in metropolitan France. as one Moroccan migrant who appealed for compensation for a workplace injury was told. “As a Moroccan you are a foreign worker. with the close of hostilities the French state hastily sought not just to repatriate these workers—who. Policing Paris. identity cards.83 Migration did not cease. and Algeria remained. such as requirements that they obtain nationality certificates. On the contrary. depended on the Quai d’Orsay—had to surmount a raft of measures designed as obstacles to free movement. 3 (1923): 178. 85 Rosenberg. 144–45.” While reciprocity in Franco-Moroccan relations would 82 “French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon.84 The number of Algerians resident in France had risen by 1928 to more than sixty thousand. However. were viewed as an insidious danger to the body politic—but also to erect a “series of administrative hurdles that significantly limited freedoms guaranteed” to North African migrants by “existing legislation. The war years had witnessed a sharp increase in the number of North African. Algerians in particular. only two hundred of the wartime laborers recruited from Morocco.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 471 plenipotentiaries. both Algerians—who remained under the care of the Ministry of the Interior—and Moroccans and Tunisians—who. 86 Ibid. their usefulness exhausted.” American Journal of International Law 17.. as subjects of nominal protectorates. and picked up again with the “shift from repatriation to improved surveillance” on the soil of the metropole. and fourteen hundred from Indochina and China. say. Indochinese. 213. returning to Morocco which is not a colony but a protectorate. Thomas.85 Nevertheless. 130–31.”82 This was in stark contrast with the status of other non-European migrants who sought to move between the various parts of the French empire in the 1920s and 1930s. and approval from the Ministry of Labor for their employment contracts. 84 Martin Thomas. 124. Moroccans. and Chinese laborers in metropolitan France as these men were recruited to compensate for the constant loss of Frenchmen to the front. 83 Rosenberg. freed in 1914 from the need to present permits for travel to the métropole.” By 1921.86 Eastern Mediterranean migrants were able to secure far more substantive entitlements from the French state than.
Paris. E.”88 He was not alone in holding this perspective. intervention on behalf of migrants in Portuguese Guinea could have only “beneficial results” in the Mandatory territories themselves. 89 Simon Jackson. Upon being informed of this threat by the French consul to Monrovia. High Commissioner to MFA.” It is no surprise that the High Commission should have regarded these men and women as “essential” to the mise en valeur of their homeland. As the high commissioner pointed out in 1929.d. 1915–1939. “a/s Protection consulaire des Syriens et Libanais en Guinée Portugaise. n. political and economic force. Boundaries of the Republic.87 This commitment. in the hope that such intercession might bolster their own embattled position. but also in other territories.”89 Such pragmatic concerns were compelling enough to motivate officials in both Paris and Beirut to ensure that Lebanese and Syrian migrants were treated as nationals of most favored states not just in France’s own colonial possessions. and potentially unified. 394–95. In 1928.90 They sought to resort to the terms of the Mandate in order to Lewis. 397. New York University. the Quai d’Orsay faced calls from officials in Beirut to assist Eastern Mediterranean migrants facing difficulties in the mahjar. since “relations between Syrian and Lebanese migrants and their families remaining in the country of their birth are close and sustained. Lebanese and Syrian citizens were entitled to a share of “social citizenship. MAE Nouvelle Série. 26 Mar. and the services the Mandatory Power might be able to provide the former can only serve to bring the latter to appreciate the utility of the Mandate. 90 MAE NS/E/SL 413. “Mandatory Development: The Political Economy of the French Mandate in Syria and Lebanon. 22 June 1929. answer attached to Peytaud. As oft-repeated pieties about the long attachment of these populations to France came to ring hollow in the face of the wearying realities of rule. Peytaud. Monrovia. 88 87 .” PhD diss. Syrie-Liban (hereafter NS/E/SL) 129. the Quai d’Orsay was drawn into a protracted dispute with the Liberian government by the latter’s decision to ban all trade by citizens of countries with which it had not agreed a commercial treaty—a measure which affected. but also French protection elsewhere in the world.” which gave them not only freedom of movement between their own states and metropolitan France and its colonies. the Syrian and Lebanese diaspora had by the close of World War I come to be seen “as a powerful. 21–22. was pressed into service by French administrators in their efforts to manage the sentiments of Lebanese and Syrian citizens and to maintain at least a measure of acquiescence to the Mandatory presence. in the main. Lebanese and Syrian traders. As Simon Jackson has recently argued.. potential “collaborators in our economic and moral expansion” who might serve “the double interest of France and the countries under French Mandate. enshrined in the terms of the Mandate.472 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN have seemed intolerable to French administrators.” Beirut. 2009. 1928. officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged him to “intervene firmly … in order to obtain at the very least a stay of execution” until League of Nations arbitration had run its course.
they failed in practice to provide effective checks upon migration from the Eastern Mediterranean. JOAOF (1927): 300–1.93 These skeletal controls upon migration were. Journal Officiel de l’Afrique Occidentale Française (JOAOF) (1921): 676–78. in stark contrast with those of 1910. Guy’s 1910 arrêté. JOAOF (1925): 219–20. they failed to impose restrictions upon entry. While they forbade foreigners from practicing certain professions without administrative authorization.” a concession that deliberately did away with a significant impediment to migration. and JOAOF (1923): 458–59. The requirement that “French Mandate. JOAOF (1932): 297–302. 94 Desbordes.94 While these measures went some way toward reestablishing the legal status quo ante on paper. new arrivals were allowed to provide instead a guarantee given by a “solvent licensed trader. demanded nothing more of migrants than a simple declaration of identity to their landlords. MAE NS/E/SL 413. the decrees of 1921 and 1923. 1927. L’Immigration. The 1921 regulations. seen as failing “to correspond to the principles regulating the settlement of foreigners in France” and deemed “vexatious” to passengers. any criminal record they might have. 26 Mar. was abrogated in 1921 in an attempt to bring AOF into line with metropolitan practices. meanwhile. and a monetary guarantee set in 1927 at 4. In such circumstances. already established in the colony.” 179.d. While the decree of 28 April 1923 did stipulate that identity cards could be granted only to migrants who had paid a guarantee equivalent to the costs of repatriation. Crucially. Indeed. supplemented by subsequent decrees in 1925. were intended to regulate the activities of foreign nationals upon the territory of AOF rather than to police its borders. Interwar migration controls in AOF. rather than merely affirming the principle of protection. answer attached to Peytaud. 93 Desbordes. 63. Paris.92 It is clear that the Quai d’Orsay.”91 and suggested that reciprocal treatment for Lebanese citizens in Liberia might be expected. L’Immigration. n. sought to safeguard the commercial position of Lebanese and Syrian citizens abroad and ensure their rights were upheld.800 Francs for Lebanese and Syrian citizens. 91 92 . if necessary through recourse to lengthy arbitration before the League of Nations.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 473 safeguard the interests of their Levantine protégés. it is true. unlike pre-war measures. the only recourse available to administrators wishing to channel or stem the inflow of people from the Eastern Mediterranean was to refuse identity cards to migrants already on the soil of the Federation. and a medical certificate. pointing out that Article 11 prohibited any “discrimination in Syria or the Lebanon … against the nationals of any member-state of the League of Nations. 65. and 1932 that required travelers disembarking in AOF to provide proof of identity. both steered clear of any measures of exception that might contravene international convention and submitted AOF to metropolitan law. Monrovia. 1928. this may well not have been their purpose. 66–80.
He could not but conclude. Had functionaries regarded this consignment as an exclusionary measure. 96 95 .” This had been formulated in response to both a sudden hike in the numbers of new migrants over 1936 and 1937 and the mounting tension between colons and Libano-Syriens. The stipulation that passengers present any criminal record for a visa. he said. almost a year later the Department of Political Affairs at the Rue Oudinot had still not responded to this proposal. officials scrupulously avoided any suggestion of prejudice against migrants.” Dakar.97 Frustrated by the inefficacy of such local measures. Also unanswered.98 However. navigation lines. Governor-General Carde went so far as to stress in 1925 that even criminal offences did not disbar new arrivals from being granted residence. using the JOAOF (1925): 634. as the head of the Federation’s Sûreté Générale complained bitterly in an internal memorandum. GG to Minister of Colonies. they would likely have been less willing to accept the guarantees of migrants already established in AOF.” This procedure was no more than a means of gathering “information” to be used “in the enquiry which precedes the issue of a definitive identity card.” Under this scheme. the issue of visas to prospective migrants before their departure would be conditional upon the personal authorization of the governor-general. was a request the Ministry of Colonies had forwarded to the Quai d’Orsay to “strengthen the existing regulatory measures. “The local administration can count only upon itself to face down. not to bar entry to those unable to pay. Governor-General de Coppet in 1936 suggested the creation of what amounted. did not grant local authorities the capacity to “oppose the disembarkation of convicts. 97 JOAOF (1925): 634.95 and the Mandatory authorities in Beirut96 on behalf of their employees. but rather to free the administration from the costs of repatriating indigent aliens. “a/s immigration libano-syrienne. 1927. or payments by commercial companies. 1936. which was contingent only upon providing the appropriate documents rather than their content. to a system of “remote control. By Article 3 of the decree of 5 Mar. which offered no real means of “selection” from the hundreds and thousands of migrants who disembarked in AOF each year.474 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN migrants pay a guarantee seems to have acted essentially as a budgetary measure intended. JOAOF (1926): 773. in effect. 98 CARAN AOF/Nouvelle Série (NS)/21 G 61. and administrative charges. JOAOF 1177 (9 Apr. 1927): 301. which stipulated that the caution could be replaced by a document attesting that the government of the indigent migrant’s country of origin was prepared to provide the costs of repatriation. he made clear. who would base his decision upon the advice of both the Mandatory authorities and the territorial lieutenant-governors. Moreover.” Under no circumstances could the evidence thus acquired “justify a refusal” to grant the right to land. 2 Dec. travelers. who were better able to assess situations in their own colonies.
” 103 “Modus Vivendi relatif à l’établissement des Libanais en France. they were entitled. While this measure did not alter existing regulations upon the registration of foreigners and delivery of identity papers. expulsion orders would only be accepted in cases where migrants had committed criminal offences. ratified) put an end to the status of Lebanese and Syrian citizens as formal protégés. if ever. and occupation of all mobile and immobile goods and. 2008). then.fr/BASIS/pacte/webext/bilat/DDD/19340025. and state benefits. in keeping with the directives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. they were to continue to 99 CARAN AOF/NS/21 G 142. He castigated local authorities for failing to make use of an administrative tool that enabled them “to select immigrants to their territories. though the colonial state could.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 475 legislation already in place. DAPA. residence. the right to dispose of them.”99 Lebanese and Syrian migrants. occupations and professions.”100 Furthermore.pdf (accessed 25 Jan. 101 CARAN AOF/NS/21 G 61. the exercise of trade. 1937. Lebanese and Syrians were to be treated with benevolence in matters of “settlement. “Résumé relatif à la question de l’immigration libano-syrienne en AOF. used to expel Libano-Syriens from AOF.doc. “a/s immigration libano-syrienne. ownership.” http://www. “Compte-rendu de la réunion du 25 novembre 1937 au sujet de la question de l’immigration libano-syrienne en AOF. the purchase.diplomatie. could not be selected before their departure from Beirut or Tripoli. the dangers associated with the growth of Lebanese and Syrian migration to AOF. conscription. They could only be subjected to a screening process once already resident in the Federation. . “by dint of the Mandate … to our protection. 13 Oct. by the letter of the law. in the event. 100 Ibid.” Dakar. such provisions were rarely.gouv. 1936. These accorded Lebanese and Syrian residents in France the status of “citizens of a most favored nation. could be refused to new arrivals awaiting permission to remain in AOF. 102 CARAN AOF/NS/21 G 61. nor turned away at the borders of AOF. generally.” Dakar.” in reciprocal recognition of the preferential treatment accorded French nationals in Lebanon and Syria. withdraw identity documents from foreigners who failed to observe residence requirements or were found in breach of public health regulations.” They were also to remain free of any special taxes aside from residency taxes. which is accorded them in France and the colonies on the same terms as to our own citizens and subjects. since Lebanese and Syrian citizens were “not to be treated with the same rigor as other foreigners.103 While the signing of independence treaties with “the states of the Levant” in 1936 (never.”102 This was no more than an extension to the colonies of regulations already implemented in the métropole in early 1935. As the Department of Political Affairs took pains to point out in 1936. such rejections were “unfortunately … rare. 17 Nov. While identity documents.” as the director of the Federation’s Sûreté Générale conceded in 1937.”101 Indeed. which doubled as residence permits.
and Fighali called upon Minister of Colonies Marius Moutet to reconsider his case and “see whether it would not be possible. the other by refoulement. in this delicate game of praise and 104 CARAN AOF/NS/21 G 61 [200 Mi 3039]. Prestige and Domination in the ‘Colonial Situation. 20 June 1910. See Emmanuelle Saada. 19 Oct. Already expelled from AOF. 1910. Paris. While not always successful in gaining repeals. Khudr hoped to “be authorized to return to his family. Recourse to such intercession had its origins in the years before World War I. 31 Dec. to allow him to return home.107 They became increasingly common in the interwar years. efforts to draw benefit from the “culture of legality” in which Mandatory rule was embedded had their origins in the lobbying and jurisdictional politics of the late Ottoman period. Paris. intervening regularly throughout the 1930s on behalf of both Christian and Muslim Lebanese citizens served with expulsion orders. Bompard to MFA. “I am certain that this Lebanese national will become.476 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN benefit from the same exceptional treatment as “nationals of a most favored” state. Fighali seems to have been confident enough in his capacities to continue dispatching entreaties to the Ministry of Colonies appealing for clemency for his compatriots.” 105 These were. Already in 1910 the migrants of the commercial center of Kayes had expressed their dissatisfaction with the treatment meted out by the colonial administration in a letter to Sulaiman al-Bustani. He did not shy away from ending a letter acknowledging the expulsions.” This was a carefully worded appeal.105 Migrants often enlisted the assistance of both Lebanese dignitaries and French administrators in their individual and collective appeals to the Ministry of Colonies and the Government-General of AOF. of three men from Côte d’Ivoire with a further request for clemency in the case of Ahmad ‘Isa Khudr. when Eastern Mediterranean migrants in AOF regularly sought and received assistance from Lebanese dignitaries. the Maronite deputy for Beirut in the Ottoman assembly. “Mandatory Development.” Past & Present 186 (2005): 201–32. Culture and Society 20. like his compatriots who have already seen their identity cards returned. .” particularly to his pregnant wife. 106 MAE T/SL/NS 114.106 It is clear that. the Maronite vicar patriarchal in Paris. the one punished by expulsion. See Daniel Gordon. ably moving between the overlapping lexicons of Christian charity for a man “with eight people at his charge” and nationalist sentiment. “The Back-Door of the Nation-State: Expulsion of Foreigners and Continuity in Twentieth-Century France. Monsignor Fighali. with a little kindness. despite his efforts. “Compte-rendu de la réunion du 25 novembre 1937 au sujet de la question de l’immigration libano-syrienne en AOF. Bompard to MFA. as Simon Jackson has argued. as in metropolitan law.104 Such clemency sometimes extended even to expulsion orders issued for criminal offences or breach of residency requirements. was perhaps the most frequent intercessor. 1910. 2 (2002): 98–120. MC to MFA. Of these.” 398. 107 Jackson. 402. a most devoted friend to a benevolent and generous France. “The Empire of Law: Dignity. Therapia.’” French Politics. distinct offences.” The vicar patriarchal assured Moutet.
in an apparent attempt to gloss over his decision to expel Abu Rizq and Hilal by presenting the possibility of their return. Governor-General Brévié did postpone the expulsions of Tham and Wihbi. Paris. at a time when they are amicably discussing with France the terms of a treaty of friendship. “An act of clemency toward [these men] would be welcomed by … their Lebanese compatriots. Fighali was prepared to deploy all rhetorical means at his disposal in pursuit of a favorable decision. Such wiliness was effective: while Hilal and Abu Rizq had already left the Federation.” In a pair of letters to the governor-general. 1936. “The withdrawal of a foreigner’s identity booklet is not in itself an expulsion order. currently France’s protégés. 29 June 1936. and soon to be its friends and allies.”109 What is more.108 Fighali enjoyed some striking successes.111 108 Aix-en-Provence. 109 CAOM MC/FM/AP 1432/1. 110 CAOM MC/FM/AP 1432/1. Husain Wihbi. their protector and friend for more than ten centuries” with independence. whose identity papers had been confiscated for their political activities. he explained. He also underscored his authority as a religious emissary and accomplished scholar. as a Frenchman.” who suggested that he “write to you directly. Fighali to MC. Fighali asked him to reverse his decision. Dakar. asking you to examine carefully the case of these unfortunate Lebanese. and as Professor of Oriental Languages at the Sorbonne and the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bordeaux. “where [he had] brought up this matter the other day. casually drop by the Quai d’Orsay to discuss the position of his compatriots. the unshakeable commitment of the Lebanese towards France. Muhammad Hilal.FA I L I N G TO S T E M T H E T I D E 477 gentle persuasion. told him that requests for readmission to AOF at a later date might be welcomed. and assured Fighali he was “re-examining with the utmost benevolence the situation of these citizens under French Mandate. Ministère des Colonies. Fighali attempted to pull a concession from Moutet by pricking his conscience while simultaneously flattering his patriotic sensibilities. maintaining. Fighali to GG. Fighali to GG. He appealed on their behalf as “the representative of the Maronite Patriarch to the French government. and stressed the advantages of a favorable decision in terms that conflated immediate political exigency and long commitments. 3 June 1936. 13 July 1936. he also hinted at his influence as a Lebanese plenipotentiary who could. Capable of humbly presenting himself as an ordinary French citizen. 31 Dec.” Benevolence towards these men would be “most opportune” and would coincide with the French government’s decision “to reward the fidelity. 111 CAOM MC/FM/AP 1432/1.” and. GG to Fighali. his turn of phrase suggested. Paris. Paris. and Ilias Abu Rizq.110 Clearly. Centre des Archives d’Outremer. Fonds Ministériel. Affaires Politiques (hereafter CAOM MC/FM/AP) 1432/1. In 1936.” He also reminded the Monsignor. he obtained the suspension of expulsion orders hanging over Ibrahim Tham. he addressed himself to the governorgeneral on the advice of functionaries at the Quai d’Orsay. .
these relations were marked by stark asymmetries of power between various agencies that sometimes allowed one to protect its own interests at the expense of others around it. such as matters of international law and foreign relations. This tale of frustration and halfmeasures underscores that no colonial territory was an island unto itself. Such endeavors. these functionaries still could not deal with the cases of Lebanese migrants according to inflexible. They illuminate the workings of the paternalistic civic order created by the French in Lebanon and Syria within which religious representatives like Fighali were treated as favored interlocutors.” and “benevolence” that infused such exchanges. Even after the introduction of the 1932 decree intended to centralize and rationalize all migration procedures. Weberian bureaucratic procedures. This account has also shown ways in which this empire-state retained personal. Not only were governors and ministers of state pulled into protracted personal correspondence with migrants and their advocates. as I have shown. rested upon the intimate registers of sentimental commitment. . but only of an imperial system. were repeatedly stymied by interventions of metropolitan departments of state. whose constituent parts were administered by a congeries of departments of state. affective forms and norms of governance even as it dealt in matters of international law that showed little concern for the circumstances of particular individuals. In important areas of sovereignty. But they also allow us to trace the reverberations of such policy as far away as AOF. they found themselves enmeshed in the webs of empire. whose administrators found their own capacity to act constrained by the sentimental imperatives of the Mandatory state. each with its own priorities and imperatives. French possessions remained clearly subordinated to directives issued from Rue Oudinot. This is a telling reminder that we cannot truly speak of a colonial state in the singular. in emotive registers that bore scarce relation to the abstract language of jurisprudence. entrenching an enduring form of bureaucratic confessionalism. and the Ministry of Colonies was itself forced to bow in turn before directives of the Quai d’Orsay. Imperial reason of state. and free to make law as they saw fit. Instead. but they also had to respond to such entreaties. Furthermore. and by the entreaties of migrants themselves.478 ANDREW KERIM ARSAN Cases like these are profoundly revealing in a number of ways. and frame their own arguments. I have sought here to trace the attempts of administrators across AOF to devise and implement measures of law that might check Eastern Mediterranean migration to the territories under their rule.” “fidelity. forced to navigate a tangled weave of personal commitments and sentimental ties. and they reveal the intimate language of “friendship. then. its administrators safely marooned on the periphery away from the intrusive politicking of the imperial capital.