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Interlopers of EmpireThe Lebanese Diaspora in Colonial French West Africa$
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Andrew Arsan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199333387

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199333387.001.0001

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Failing to Stem the Tide

Failing to Stem the Tide

Lebanese Migration and the Competing Prerogatives of the Imperial State

Chapter:
(p.99) 4 Failing to Stem the Tide
Source:
Interlopers of Empire
Author(s):

Andrew Arsan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199333387.003.0005

This chapter examines the failure of colonial administrators in French West Africa to enforce legislative checks upon Lebanese migration in the years before the Second World War. This lack of success stands out amidst the global proliferation of migration controls in the first half of the twentieth century. For it is not simply that these functionaries were unable to implement effectively the measures they had drafted; more than that, they remained stymied in their very efforts to introduce such controls. That this was so was largely due to the commitments of the French imperial state in the Eastern Mediterranean, which drove administrators in Paris to adopt a benign attitude towards the movements of Lebanese migrants, and to override the efforts of their counterparts in West Africa. To the diplomats at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lebanon — whether as part of the Ottoman empire or as a French Mandate — was far more important than West Africa. And the Quai d’Orsay, in turn, carried greater weight than the Ministry of Colonies. This tale, then, enhances our understanding of the workings of an imperial polity which was a congeries of conflicting agents, interests, and institutions.

Keywords:   migration controls, migration, imperial state, mandate, Eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon

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