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A Gateway to the World: Jewish and Armenian Engineers of Ottoman Background at the École centrale des arts et manufactures (1853-1923)

Une porte sur le monde : ingénieurs juifs et arméniens, de l’Empire ottoman à l’École centrale des arts et manufactures
Darina Martykánová
p. 33-51

Résumés

Dans la seconde moitié du xixe siècle, l’École centrale des arts et manufactures française devint une école d’ingénieurs jouissant d’une réputation internationale ; les étudiants étrangers y furent nombreux. Cet article porte sur les diplômés nés dans l’Empire ottoman, en particuliers les étudiants juifs et arméniens ; il s’attache à leur parcours, à leurs caractéristiques et à leurs carrières professionnelles et restitue leurs liens avec les autres centraliens. L’étude de leurs trajectoires professionnelles permet d’appréhender un monde riche en opportunités, où des hommes hautement qualifiés pouvaient aisément traverser les frontières et construire une carrière, mais où, dans le même temps, les origines, les réseaux d’allégeance, les relations et les diplômes jouent un rôle de premier plan.

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Notes de la rédaction

This article is based on research carried out in the framework of two research projects. The authors Marie Curie Career Integration Grant TECHDEM: Technocracy and Democracy: convergence, conflicts and negotiations. A comparative and global analysis of expert knowledge and political power (18th-21st centuries was funded by the European Commission (F7-PEOPLE-2013-CIG). Further research and dissemination were carried out within the project TRANSFAIRE: Matières à transfaire. Espaces-temps d’une globalisation (post-)ottomane, directed by Marc Aymes and Benjamin Gourisse and funded by the Agence nationale de recherche of France (2012). I thank Nicholas Miller and Meltem Kocaman for their useful corrections and comments.

Texte intégral

  • 2 André Grelon, “Du bon usage du modèle étranger : la mise en place de l’École centrale des arts et m (...)
  • 3 André Grelon, Irina Gouzévitch, “Reflexión sobre el ingeniero europeo en el siglo xix: retos, probl (...)

1Those who founded the École centrale des arts et manufactures in Paris in the late 1820s strove to create an institution of higher education that would be more open and flexible than existing French schools for state engineers, and that would promote links with industry, thus contributing to the faster industrialization of France, which – as the school’s founders understood it – was lagging behind Great Britain2. At the same time, and unlike the English engineering tradition that the founders claimed to admire, the institution was to provide the kind of top-level scientific education that characterized the highest echelons of French engineering education of that time, referred to and imitated across the world3. The school was created and owned by private investors led by Alphonse Lavallée, but after the owners offered it to the French state in 1857 it became one of the top public engineering schools not only in France, but the world. To attend the École centrale, candidates had to pass an exam that often required intensive preparation in special institutions or the help of a tutor, increasing costs for the young students’ families. Studies at the École lasted for three years, and only those who succeeded in all stages of evaluation received an engineer’s diploma; the less successful merely obtained a certificate.

  • 4 Programme of the year 1850, École centrale des arts et manufactures.
  • 5 These annuaires are to be found in the library of the École centrale des arts et manufactures.

2In the first year, students studied general subjects such as descriptive geometry, geometrical analysis, general mechanics, general chemistry, natural history and movement transmission4. They also applied themselves to experiments in chemistry, physics, machine design, construction and drawing. In the second year, subjects included applied mechanics, machine construction, analytical chemistry, metallurgy, geology and exploitation, public works and architecture and “industrial physics”. The students carried out experiments and practical exercises and began working on projects. Additionally, they received a special assignment to be completed during their holidays. In the third year students chose a specialization in a particular branch of engineering: mechanics, construction or metallurgy. The young men continued to study applied mechanics, machine construction, analytical chemistry, metallurgy, geology and mineral exploitation, public works and architecture, along with new subjects such as steam-engine machines or railways. They carried out experiments in chemistry and developed practical skills specific to their branch. Besides another holiday assignment, they had to do several projects. The studies culminated with a concours, a competitive examination that determined whether the student would get a full diploma and his (or, from the early 20th century onward, her) position in the yearly promotion. As in the schools for state engineers, the graduates who achieved promotion and were ranked according to their academic accomplishments. This and other practices produced a sense of pride and belonging among the alumni, which was fostered by an alumni society, the Association amicale de l’École centrale des arts et manufactures. The Association tried to stay in touch with all graduates, local and foreign, and published information about their lives and professional careers in its bulletins or annuaires. They constitute a unique source that allows us to trace the truly global trajectories of some of these men5.

Ottoman-born students at the École centrale

  • 6 Archives of the École polytechnique, “Élèves étrangers”. Regarding the surveillance of contacts bet (...)

3Private or public, the École centrale was undoubtedly much easier to access for foreign students than the French state engineering schools connected to the Ministry of War, i.e. the École polytechnique and its successor schools, including École des ponts et chaussées and École des mines. French authorities were extremely cautious about granting foreigners permission to attend lectures at these schools, and the admission of foreign students was heavily influenced by the French geopolitical agenda and standing alliances. Typically, there were numerous groups of students from traditional ally countries such as Russia and from countries which France claimed to protect and tried to patronize. Thus we find a great number of Polish refugees at these schools, as well as students from the young Latin American republics and countries emerging from the disintegrating Ottoman Empire such as Greece or Romania. However, Ottoman or Spanish students were rather rare. Even when they authorized foreigners to attend these schools, the authorities tried hard to control and regulate their contact with French students, particularly “internal” ones, that is, those who were supposed to work for the state, either in the military or in the civil service. The regulations of the École polytechnique regarding foreign students attest to this practice6.

  • 7 On the policy of using fees to finance fellowships, see Grelon, 2004.
  • 8 Güneş Işıksel, Emmanuel Szurek (dir.), Turcs et Français. Une histoire culturelle, 1860-1960, Renne (...)

4Contrary to these restrictive policies, the École centrale was open to students of all nationalities who could pass the exams and pay course fees, which were high enough to permit the school to fund fellowships for particularly talented students7. It thus comes as no surprise that, hundreds of foreign students graduated from the École centrale during the second half of the 19th century, and that most of them came with little or no mediation from French or foreign governments. Among these foreigners were many young men born in the Ottoman Empire. Elites in many regions, including the Ottoman domains, considered Paris the center of universal civilization, and saw a diploma from one of its prestigious educational institutions a stamp of knowledge and a gateway to success. The Ottoman Empire and France were connected by thousands of links: personal, institutional, economic and symbolic. Frenchmen and Ottomans, and those who moved between these two unstable categories, participated in the configuration of transnational discourses and fields of action8. All of these were reasons for the abundance of students of Ottoman birth in the École centrale.

  • 9 This seems for instance to be the case of Alfred Charles Arsène Boudon, born in Constantinople. Dur (...)
  • 10 This topic was first addressed in Martykánová, 2016.

5Since student citizenship was not included in the school’s registers it is difficult to give an exact number of Ottoman subjects at the school. In fact, several of the students born in the Ottoman Empire were almost certainly not of Ottoman origin, and in some cases their links to the Empire seem to have been extremely tenuous. They were, most probably, French citizens whose fathers had worked temporarily in the Ottoman domains and had taken their family with them9. Nonetheless, some indicators can be used to establish and evaluate the nature of a student’s ties with the Ottoman Empire, among them the place of residence of the “head of the family” during the student’s years at the École. But even this is a dubious criterion, as some of the families that were certainly of Ottoman origin had emigrated to France and elsewhere in Europe before or during their scion’s studies at the École. In practice, flexibility and guesswork are needed to make statements about the students’ citizenship, allegiances and ethnoreligious origin, combining data from the school’s registers with name and surname analysis and following-up with a consideration of the graduates’ life trajectories10. While name and surname analysis can have problematic implications when analyzing societies (including contemporary Turkey) that are based on secular notions of citizenship and the equality of individuals before the law, ethno-religious communities were one of the most important organizing principles of the Ottoman society and existed as autonomous legal entities with authority over their members, as acknowledged by the Ottoman government. In this context, the combination of a person’s name(s) and surname (if they had the latter) provide important clues regarding his/her community of belonging.

  • 11 For similar reasons, I do not include the sole Tunisian I have found in the annuaires, Raymond Vale (...)

6Between 1853 and 1923, approximately one hundred students of Ottoman birth graduated from the École centrale. To put this number in perspective, over one hundred and twenty students born in Spain (including its colonies Cuba and Puerto Rico) and almost one hundred students from other Spanish-speaking countries (mainly from Chile, Argentina and Mexico) graduated between 1836 and 1921. We have to bear in mind that the Ottoman Empire was losing territories throughout the period, which forces the researcher to continuously choose whom to include and whom to exclude. Particularly thorny is the issue of people coming from territories that were officially part of the Ottoman Empire but whose governments and institutions enjoyed almost complete autonomy from Constantinople. The two largest groups of this kind were Romanians and Egyptians. I have included students from Moldavia and Wallachia in the Ottoman-born total when they were highly autonomous Ottoman territories (there were twenty of them, thus representing almost 50% of all Ottoman-born graduates during that period), but stopped counting these students once Romania came to existence. In the case of the Egyptians, I have not included them in the overall number of “Ottomans” because at the time when the Egyptians first appeared in the registers of the École, Egyptian authorities had long held independent policies of sending students abroad as well as their own local institutions that employed those who graduated from foreign schools. In fact, the career patterns of these Egyptian graduates provide an interesting point of comparison with Ottomans from the core regions of the Empire11.

  • 12 For an overview of the 19th-century transformations, see: Dimitrios Stamatopoulos, “From millets to (...)

7The students of Ottoman birth were a most heterogeneous group. The extremely diverse ethno-religious make-up of the inhabitants of the Ottoman domains was further complicated by the variety of possible legal arrangements regarding the nationality of those who resided in the Empire. Ottoman subjects were organized into several ethno-religious communities whose legal status and internal organization were undergoing major transformations in the period covered in this study12. Furthermore, many foreign subjects lived in the Empire, either temporarily or on a long-term basis. To add to the complexity, the frontier between subjects of the sultan and foreigners was blurred, as some foreigners (exiled Poles and Hungarians, among many others) adopted Ottoman nationality, while many Ottomans, particularly non-Muslims, actively sought to acquire foreign nationality, looking for protection and the possibility of emigration. This plurality and fluidity is well-represented in the group of Ottoman-born students of the École centrale.

  • 13 On the Levantines, see, for example: Oliver Jens Schmitt, Les Levantins. Cadres de vie et identités (...)
  • 14 Registre 1898, Annuaire 1920.

8First, as mentioned above, there were students who were born in the Ottoman lands, but were most probably not Ottoman subjects. Neither their name, the addresses of the “head of the family” during their studies, nor their future professional careers indicate any further link to the Ottoman lands. Second, there are some individuals whose names and surnames point to Western European – mainly French and Italian –origins, but whose place of residence and/or professional trajectory after graduating from the École indicate continuous links with the Ottoman domains. They may be recent arrivals from European countries or perhaps Levantines, that is, Western Christians and Jews established in the Ottoman lands permanently, sometimes for centuries13. Striving for better security, many of them claimed and obtained foreign (French, Austrian, Italian or other) nationality in the 19th century. Others had never given it up. One of these dubious cases is, for example, a certain Paul Blanche, born in Tripoli, Syria, who graduated in 1884 and worked as an engineer for the Technical Services of the Compagnie ottomane des chemins de fer de la Syrie et l’Euphrate, before settling in Paris. Another example is Louis Baudouy or Baudouin, born in Constantinople, whose family lived in France during his studies. After obtaining his diploma in 1892, he worked as an engineer at the Société française de travaux publics and was Secretary-General of the mines of Karassou (Karasu, Asia Minor), mining facilities located in the Ottoman Empire. The head of the family of Constantinople-born Edouard Girard (Edouard Paul Giraud in the entry registry of 1898) lived and worked in the Ottoman capital when Edouard studied at the École. After he graduated in 1901, Edouard worked as an engineer at the Cassandra mines in Zonguldak, a mining zone in the Black Sea region of Ottoman Anatolia14.

  • 15 Unlike contemporary Turkey, most of the names used by Ottoman Muslim men were not used by any other (...)
  • 16 There was another non-Egyptian Muslim born on Ottoman territory, though by the time he received his (...)
  • 17 This statement leaves aside Egyptians.
  • 18 On students sent abroad by the Ottoman government, see Mustafa Gençoğlu, Osmanlı Devleti’nce Batı’y (...)

9Several groups can be distinguished among those who most probably were – or, in some point, had been – Ottoman subjects. The smallest group is that of Ottoman Muslims, of any ethnicity (Turk, Arab, Albanian, etc.)15. If we leave aside Egyptians, among whom we do find a significant number of Muslims, there is only one Ottoman Muslim student from the core regions of the Empire. Hasan Rıza was born in 1847 in Kavala, a city in the region of eastern Macedonia. His specialization was as a constructeur and he received his diploma in 186316. During his studies, the head of his family, a property owner known as Ismail, lived in Kavala. This absence of Muslims is quite striking, considering that there were many Ottoman Muslim students at French state engineering schools such as the École polytechnique and its follow-up schools, though there the number of Ottoman subjects overall among the students at these schools was lower than at the École centrale17. A hypothesis would be that the Muslim students at the state schools were sent by the Ottoman government (a confirmed fact in many cases) and were often of military status and therefore headed for schools linked to the Ministry of War18. By the last third of the 19th century, when greater numbers of Ottoman Muslim families took the initiative to send their sons to study engineering abroad without the support of the state, French engineering schools had become less attractive and accessible than their Belgian, Swiss and German counterparts.

  • 19 Annuaire of the year 1930.

10There is an important difference in comparison with the Egyptian centraliens, among whom Muslims were well represented. Some of them might have been sent by Egyptian authorities just before a veiled British protectorate was established in 1882. This seems to be the case of two members of the 1883 promotion, Farid Abdelaziz and Ismal Sirri. Farid Abdelaziz, born in Alexandria, went on to become chief inspector of railroad maintenance of the Egyptian Railways in Cairo. Minieh (Menia)-born Ismail Sirri also resided in Cairo in 1897, working as inspector of the second circle of irrigations. Remarkably, their French classmate A. Souter can also be found in Egypt at the end of the 19th century, working as an engineer for the Egyptian government. During the Great War, when the school’s routine was altered and the number of graduates dropped drastically, we find two other Egyptian Muslims. Hussein Sirri Bey, born in Cairo, is one of only ten graduates in 1916. By 1930, he had acquired an extremely high profile. A member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London and the Royal Society of Civil Engineers of Egypt, he served in the Egyptian government as sub-Secretary of State and as Minister of Public Works. His fellow countryman Abbas Wahbi graduated with 22 other students in 1917, and he was also living in Egypt in 193019.

  • 20 For works in French and English on Greek engineers, including their links to France, see, for insta (...)

11The remaining groups fall within the category of Ottoman non-Muslims, broadly defined. Besides the Levantines who are particularly difficult to identify due to their naming patterns, there were also substantial numbers of students coming from specific, highly autonomous regions who tended to return home and develop their professional careers there, particularly Wallachians and Moldavians (later Romanians). I exclude them from my analysis, as their professional careers developed mostly during the existence of Romania and tend to fit well into Romanian national history, of which I know little. Orthodox Greeks came from many regions of the Empire, and there were many of them among the Ottoman-born centraliens. Strikingly, several of those who came from the core regions of the Ottoman Empire developed their professional careers in Greece. Ottoman-born Greeks deserve a separate article for several reasons. First, it would be useful to analyze them together with (or, at least, in comparison to) Greek centraliens who were born and/or grew up in independent Greece. Secondly, the fact that many ended up working in Greece makes them similar to Romanians, and sets them apart from other Ottoman non-Muslims such as Jews and Armenians. At a more practical level, the abundant bibliography on Greek engineers, including the Ottoman-born ones, is partially in Greek, which I do not read, so I am not able to ascertain to what degree my study would be in innovative and complement existing works on Greek engineering students in France published by Efthymios Nicolaidis, Fotini Assimacopoulou or Konstantinos Chatzis20.

12This article, however, focuses mostly on other non-Muslim Ottomans, namely Ottoman Jews and Armenians. These are, actually, rather nebulous categories, as they were, again, very heterogeneous groups. Armenians were split in several religious communities that were partially self-governing. They were mostly Ottoman subjects, though some might have sought and acquired foreign nationality. Ottoman Sephardi Jews came to the Empire in several waves, and some of them maintained, renewed or established social, cultural and legal links with other European lands, including foreign nationality. There were also Ashkenazi Jews who lived in the Ottoman Empire, part of the Levantine or “foreign” communities. Due to the strikingly disproportionate representation of Jews among the Ottoman-born graduates (approximately 20%), I will focus on tracing their life trajectories and careers in order to consider several hypotheses linking their presence at the École centrale to the kind of engineering education the school provided, their ties to France and shifting inter-communitarian relations in the Ottoman Empire.

  • 21 Interestingly enough, among the students of Ottoman origins who could speak Spanish, there is one w (...)

13Once again, it is impossible to make a clear-cut identification of each individual as a member of one or another ethno-religious group. The school’s registers do not state the religious affiliations of the students, so the best clues are the names and surnames of the students and of the “head” of their family. In some cases, French versions of first names were used, so it is mostly the surname or the combination of the first name and surname that permits us to speculate about the ethno-religious origins of the students. Occasionally, we are helped by the mention of the students’ language skills in the registers, as in the case of Alberto and Isaac Lévy, whose knowledge of the Spanish language in combination with their names and surnames indicates Sephardi origins21.

Ottoman Armenian students at the École centrale

  • 22 Concerning the prominent origins of this particular group, these cases are not dissimilar from thos (...)
  • 23 Registre of the year 1877.

14Surnames generally allow us to clearly identify Armenian students, though there are no clues in the registers about whether they were Gregorian (belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Church), Catholic (belonging to the Armenian Catholic Church) or Protestant. About a dozen Armenians born in the Ottoman Empire graduated from the École centrale during the period analyzed here. Some came from prominent families: Constantinople-born Dicran Khorassandji, for example, had studied at the lycée Saint-Louis in Paris before passing the entrance examination for the École centrale. He was related to, and probably the son of, Ohannes Khorassandji, head of correspondence at the Ottoman Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The contact during Dicran’s studies was Stéfan Mélik Effendi, attaché at the Ottoman Embassy in Paris. Effendi, an Ottoman diplomat of Armenian origin, later sent his own son to the École centrale22. Nichan Mélik, born in Constantinople in 1857, graduated in 1880, and during his studies, his father was first secretary at the Ottoman legation in Athens. It seems that Nichan Mélik did not follow his father’s footsteps into Ottoman public service. By the end of the 19th century, we find him holding a post in France corresponding to his professional qualifications: the section head at the Compagnie des chemins de fer de l’Est, in Pont-Saint-Vincent (Meurthe-et-Moselle). He had shown interest in railways during his studies – his final project (projet de concours) was in railway design23.

  • 24 Rıfat Vedat Yıldırim, Yeşim Işıl Ülman, “A look at the Ottoman social and medical modernization thr (...)
  • 25 Specifically 37, rue de la Bourse (or 37, Bursa Street), Constantinople.

15Gabriel Servicen, born in 1857 in Constantinople, obtained his diploma in1880. His father, Serovpe Vichenian, or Dr. Servicen Effendi (1815-1897), had studied medicine in Pisa and Paris. Back in Constantinople, he had a distinguished career as chief physician at Military Porte Hospital and professor in the School of Medicine24. Gabriel, who studied at Sainte Barbe before passing the École centrale exam, spoke French, German, Turkish and Greek (and, most probably, Armenian). After obtaining his engineering diploma, he worked as an engineer in the technical department of the Compagnie de l’Ouest algérien and later climbed the ladder of Ottoman administration, serving successively as engineer, engineer-in-chief and inspector-general of the Technical Board (direction technique) of the Ministry of Commerce and Public Works. His family was firmly established in the Ottoman capital, their place of residence remaining the same throughout these decades25.

16Grégoire Humruzian, born in 1857 Constantinople (or Büyükdere, according to the data from the Association bulletin) into a family of property owners, graduated in 1878. After some initial difficulties he did fine in the final evaluation, ranked number 57 of the 139 who graduated during the same year, and number 8 out of 30 in his specialization as constructeur. He spoke French, Turkish, Armenian, Persian and German. Like Gabriel Servicen, he went on to work for the Ottoman administration in a post related to his professional credentials. Two decades after his graduation, he was Imperial Commissioner of the Oriental railways in Salonica. He kept in touch with the institution where he had received his engineering education, becoming one of the founding members of the Association amicale de l’École centrale.

17There are some clues that point to information sharing and network mobilization in facilitating the studies of these young Armenian gentlemen. Servicen, Mélik, Humruzian and the Egyptian Manoug had all studied at Sainte-Barbe before entering the École centrale, the first three most probably together, as they were all born in 1857. Grégoire Humruzian and Nichan Mélik stayed at the same address during their studies (their stays may have overlaped), at 42, rue Rivoli (Hôtel de la Gironde). Servicen and Mélik belonged to the same promotion of 1880. During their studies, some of the Armenian students received support from prominent Armenians based in Paris. The men named as local contacts to be informed by the school of Grégoire Humruzian’s progress were, first, a Monsieur Chachian, doctor in Law in Paris, and later a Monsieur Saghirian, professor of modern languages at the Collège de France (according to the school’s register, though it is most probably Ohannes Saghirian, professor at the École des langues orientales). The head of the Humruzian family lived in Galata, Constantinople.

  • 26 Gençoğlu, 2008.

18Some clues suggest that some Ottoman Armenian students enjoyed the support of the Ottoman government: Constantinople-born Yervant Khorassan, who received his diploma in 1869 and was living in Salonica in 1897, appears in Mustafa Gençoğlu’s research on students sent to study abroad by the Ottoman government, according to the documents held at the Ottoman state archives26. In other cases, it is more difficult to tell whether the fact that their contacts were employees at the Ottoman embassy meant that they were sent by the government, or rather indicates that relatives of some students were able to informally mobilize their networks in the Ottoman diplomatic service to keep an eye on the young men.

  • 27 On the Balyans, see Alyson Wharton, The Architects of Ottoman Constantinople. The Balyan Family and (...)
  • 28 Registre of the year 1850. While this Balian is in fact Sarkis Balyan, as the year of birth is the (...)

19Ottoman Armenian professionals and businessmen also sent their sons to the École centrale. Some of the first Ottoman Armenian students seem to have come from families linked to architecture and engineering. In 1850, two of them enrolled: Ballian (born 1831) and Baptiste Muhendis, both born in Constantinople. Both had studied at M. Priestley before passing the entrance exam for the École. The head of Ballian’s family was an architect living in Constantinople, while Baptiste’s family was headed by his brother, J. Muhendis, also resident in the Ottoman capital. Since Ballian, or Balyan, was the surname of most distinguished family of Ottoman Armenian architects; and mühendis means “engineer” in Ottoman, we may speculate that these specific Ballian and Muhendis families may have been working in construction or otherwise professionally related27. In fact, Ballian was, most probably Sarkis Balyan (1831-1899), son of the architect Karapet (or Garabet) Balyan. According to Alyson Wharton, expert on the history of the Balyan family, Sarkis attended the École centrale. Yet the similarities between these two young Ottoman Armenians end here. Baptiste was a good, hard-working student, who specialized in chemistry and graduated successfully in 1853. Ballian left without finishing his studies. He got into difficulties in the very first year and was often absent, particularly after his contact, Pascal Ballian, left Paris. His teachers considered him to “have no taste for serious studies28”. Nonetheless, Sarkis Balyan went on to become an accomplished and famous architect who worked for the Ottoman sultan himself.

  • 29 See, for example, Hasan Kuruyazici (ed.), Armenian Architects of Istanbul in the Era of Westernizat (...)

20As for the businessmen, Manouck Aslan, head of the family of the centralien Georges Aslan, was born in Constantinople in 1849. Manouck graduated in 1872 and was a sugar merchant in the Ottoman capital. Georges Aslan had studied at the Institution Harant and his contact while at the École was an Armenian priest called Hunkirabeyendian. The student obtained permission to switch his specialization from metallurgist to that of constructeur, arguing that this would be more useful for his future professional career. We may only speculate that he saw more opportunities to make a living in the booming construction business in his native Constantinople than in the nearly non-existent metallurgy industry. Moreover, Ottoman Armenians had been active in construction and architecture for centuries, another factor explaining the overall predilection of Armenian centraliens for this branch29. Nonetheless, this did not prevent another Armenian student descended from businessmen from choosing mechanics and doing his final project on locomotive construction. Léon Mouradian, born in 1870 in Constantinople, had studied at the lycée Saint-Louis, like Dicran Khorassandji fifteen years before him. The head of his family was M. Mouradian, merchant, living in the neighborhood of Sirkeci of the Ottoman capital. His contact was another merchant, A. Eknayan. Graduating in 1895, Léon was living in Paris in 1920. We have no indications regarding the whereabouts in 1920 of Aram Artine Funduklian, another Ottoman Armenian student from a family of businessmen who had also studied at the lycée Saint-Louis. Born in Constantinople in 1871, Aram specialized in metallurgy. The head of his family, Artine Funduklian, was a merchant in Çekmeciler, Istanbul, while his contacts were, successively, Monsieur Cherbetian, hospital intern, Paul Hovaghimian, jeweler, and Hayoloff, another intern. Aram’s final project dealt with coal mining and he finished 17th of the forty-one students in his subject.

  • 30 This year also stands out for including several female students, all of them French. Annuaire of th (...)
  • 31 Annuaire of the year 1930.

21Several Ottoman-born Armenians appear in the year of 1921, which included students who had enrolled in 1913 and 1914 but whose studies were interrupted by the Great War30. One of these was Merguir Bardisbanian, born in Smyrna. In 1930, he was the manager of Exploitations cinématographiques in Rueil, France. Henri Sevadjian, born in the coal-mining region of Zonguldak in Asia Minor, first worked as an engineer at Schneider in Le Creusot, a company that employed many École centrale graduates, including Samuel Léon, an Ottoman Jew born in Smyrna, who worked in Transvaal. In 1930, Sevadjian was an engineer for the Société générale des huiles de pétrole in Paris. Like all of his Armenian and Greek classmates born in the Ottoman Empire, Nubar Kalebdjian, born in Constantinople, was living abroad in 1930, in his case in Paris31. We can only guess how many of them escaped death and the fates that struck their families in the Ottoman lands thanks to their studies at the École centrale,.

Ottoman Jewish students at the École centrale

  • 32 This might be Isaac Fernandez, son of Salomon Fernandez and Bienvenuta Allatini, married to Emilie (...)
  • 33 See, for instance, Mark Mazower, Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950, (...)
  • 34 Nora Şeni, Sophie Le Tarnec, Les Camondo ou l’éclipse d’une fortune, Arles, Actes Sud, 1997, p. 52.
  • 35 Hekimoglou, 2012, p. 4-8.
  • 36 This indicates that the Camondos continued to do business other than banking in the Ottoman lands e (...)

22Throughout the period analyzed here, the École centrale seems to have been rather popular among Ottoman Jews, particularly those whose families had links to Italy. Bearing in mind the above-mentioned difficulties in firmly identifying a particular Ottoman-born graduate as Jewish, their number was approximately twenty. The first graduate belonging to this group was Isaac Fernandez, who obtained his diploma in 186532. He was born in 1843 in Salonica. During his studies at the École, his father was consul of Tuscany in this Ottoman city, which had a huge Jewish population33. All evidence suggests that father and son were members of the distinguished Fernandez family that had come to the Ottoman lands from Livorno. This was one of the prominent Jewish families that resided in the Ottoman Empire but enjoyed extraterritoriality due to the protection of a European power. Among these Jews, called franco, we also find the Venezianis, the Allatinis, the Castros, the Pipernos or Tedeschis, as well as the famous family of bankers, the Camondos34. In the nineteenth and early 20th century, the Fernandezes, the Allatinis and the Camondos intermarried35. Some of these families, such as the Fernandezes, the Allatinis, the Tedeschis and the Venezianis, sent their sons to study at the École centrale, while the Camondos employed several graduates, Jewish and French, in their companies, which were located in the Ottoman domains. One such was Gabriel Tedeschi, born in Varna in 1849, who graduated in 1872. In 1897, he was general manager of the Briqueterie mécanique et architecturale (Mechanical and Architectural Brickyard) of MM. Camondo et Compagnie in Constantinople. Émile Foucart, a French engineer born in Oiron who graduated from the École centrale in 1879, was general manager of the ceramics manufacture belonging to the Camondo family in Kara-Agaç, near Constantinople, after having acquired experience in this work while working in his own (or family) company, Maison Joly et Foucart, ceramics manufacturers and machine constructors36.

  • 37 For French investment in the Ottoman domains, see Jacques Thobie, Intérêts et impérialisme français (...)

23Isaac Fernandez specialized in mechanics. He struggled throughout his studies but did well in the final concours. In 1897, he worked as a civil engineer in Constantinople, but by 1903 he was managing the mining companies of Kassandra in Macedonia, Balia-Karaïdin and Karassou (Karasu, in Asia Minor) while still resident in the Ottoman capital. In 1913-1920, he was head of the Executive Board of the mining company of Balia-Karaïdin and managing director of the Société des mines de Kassandra. Fernandez was a proud centralien, one of the founding members of the Association amicale of the school. Moreover, the French government rewarded him with the Légion d’honneur, which indicates that the companies he managed may have been linked to French interests37. More or less at the time Isaac was the company’s manager in Constantinople, the secretary general of the Société des mines de Karassou was another centralien linked to the Ottoman Empire, the above-mentioned Louis Baudouy (or Baudouin), born in Constantinople. Moreover, another Constantinople-born centralien bearing a French name, the above-mentioned Édouard Girard (or Eduard Paul Giraud), whose family lived in Constantinople during his studies in Paris, graduated in 1901 and worked in the second decade of the 20th century as an engineer at the Cassandra mines in Zonguldak, in the Black Sea region of Anatolia. These may have been linked to the mines of the same name in Macedonia, managed by Fernandez. French centralien Ernest Michot, born in Paris and an 1891 graduate, worked at the Société des mines de Balia-Karaïdin, probably while Fernandez was its manager. Later, while living in Paris, Michot become General Manager of the Compagnie de Boléo, which exploited mines in Baja California, Mexico.

  • 38 The Allatinis, as a Jewish family sharing notaries and lawyers with the Parisian Jewish upper class (...)
  • 39 Hekimoglou, 2012, p. 17-24.
  • 40 Şeni, Le Tarnec, 1997.
  • 41 Hekimoglou, 2012, p. 17-24.

24Like the three elite Armenian students Servicen, Mélik and Humruzian during the mid-1870s, Isaac Fernandez probably maintained close contacts with his fellow schoolmate Émile Allatini (Salonica, 1843-Paris, 1901) who belonged to a distinguished franco family of Livorno Jews settled in Salonica38. If Isaac is indeed the son of Salomon Fernandez and Bienvenuta Allatini (see footnote 32), he and Émile were in fact cousins39. Émile, whose father lived in Salonica, entered the school one year after Isaac, graduating in 1866, a year after Isaac Fernandez. Both had studied at the Institution Cousin before enrolling to École centrale. They also shared the same contact, a pharmacist called Grassi, though Fernandez switched to Grassi from a M. Catalan, who, like him, had an “Iberian” surname and with whom he lodged for some time. Like the Camondos, the Fernandezes and the Allatinis engaged in different projects aimed at modernizing education within Ottoman Jewish communities, including the introduction of Turkish and French, something that often made them clash with the traditionalist authorities of the Ottoman Sephardim. This led to a bitter split with Hispanophone Ottoman Jews and the creation of the Comunità isrealitico-italiana di Istanbul in 186240. It is possible that young Isaac and Émile grew up in this reformist environment, and that their families actively encouraged them to pursue scientific, application-oriented education in France. Unlike Isaac, who returned to the Ottoman Empire and successfully established himself in Constantinople, Émile, who had been an unruly and average student, moved to London, where he worked for the local branch of the family company the Allatini Brothers, which traded tobacco. His links with Paris remained strong, though, as he died there in 1901 as did his Salonica-born wife (and cousin) Mathilde, in 191741.

25A similar case of two Ottoman Jews who studied together at the École and who had Italian links is Gabriel Tedeschi, born in Varna in 1849, and Richard Viterbo, born in Constantinople in 1851. They had both studied at the Institution Martelet before passing the entrance exams for the École centrale in 1869, specializing in mechanics. The head of Gabriel’s family, M. Tedeschi, was a merchant and consul in Varna, while that of Richard’s was M. Viterbo, banker in Constantinople. The two students did not share the same contact. While for Gabriel, the school was supposed to contact M. Bloch Gomez, merchant and then M. Paul, merchant, Richard was assigned to a relative living in Paris, M. Viterbo, agent, and then to M. Apezteguia, engineer. Interestingly enough, an engineer with the same Basque name, Emilio Apezteguia, born in La Trinidad, Cuba, had graduated from the École centrale in 1859 and settled in Paris, working as civil engineer – so we may be dealing with the same person, and one who had both centralienne and “Spanish” connections. Once they finished their studies, the career paths of Gabriel and Richard differed. As I have already mentioned, Gabriel returned to the Ottoman Empire to work for the Camondo family, managing the Briqueterie mécanique et architecturale in Constantinople. Richard, however, set out on a truly global career. He was general manager of the Tramways de Constantinople, then worked as chief engineer for the New York, Texas and Mexican Railroads. Later, he served as chairman of a refinery, again in the USA. In the final decade of the 19th century, we find him back in the Ottoman Empire, as general manager of the Mersina-Tarsus-Adana Railway Company Ltd., in the Anatolian town of Mersin. The American connection of the Viterbo family seems to have lasted for decades. Lionel Viterbo, born in Constantinople and graduated in 1902, was living in Chicago, USA, by 1920.

26The USA, however, was by no means a typical stop on the professional path of Ottoman Jewish centraliens. Settling in France was much more common. This was the choice of two men, probably relatives, who shared the Sephardi surname Danon and came from Adrianople. While in France, they went into the energy business. Henri Danon, who graduated in 1889, was by 1920 general manager of the Compagnie du gaz de Tours in France. Isak Danon, who obtained his diploma in 1906, was by the same year manager of the Énergie de Seine et Yonne and co-manager of the family company, Société industrielle d’entreprises électriques Danon et Cie, in Paris. Before settling in France, some of these Ottoman Jewish graduates worked for French companies abroad, like Samuel Léon of Smyrna, who had worked for Schneider et Cie. in Transvaal before becoming manager of the Société des forces motrices d’Auvergne and Fabrication de boîtes métalliques in Paris. Others, such as Constantinople-born Isaac Lévy, successfully spent their entire professional career in France. Lévy, who graduated in 1892, had been an excellent student specializing in mechanics, with a final project on electrical tramways. During his studies, his father, a diamond-broker, resided in Antwerp, but when he later moved to Paris, Isaac went to live with him. Before his father’s arrival, Isaac’s contact in Paris was a lawyer named Schwartzfeld. Later on, Isaac became a foreign trade advisor for the French government while managing the Société industrielle de Creil and Forges de Froncles et Vraincourt and serving as managing director of the Société Geneste, Herscher et Cie.

  • 42 Another two centraliens were business partners and agents of the same company, Maison Hennebique po (...)
  • 43 Registre of 1877, Annuaire 1897.

27Others went back home, taking their French contacts with them, though in some cases their hometown had become part of a different country during their absence. Elie Modiano, born in the Ottoman Salonica, most probably into the famous banking family of the same surname, graduated from the École in 1905. He established himself as a public works entrepreneur, specializing in reinforced concrete. He was the local concessionary of the Maison Hennebique, a French producer of reinforced concrete42. In 1920, he maintained two places of residence, Paris and Salonica, the latter already being part of Greece. Two other Salonica Jews, Ellie Hassid and Raphaël Salem, graduated in 1921 and were still living in Paris in 1930. It was not atypical for Ottoman Jewish and Armenian families to keep ties to both Paris and sites in the Ottoman lands. When Alberto Lévy, born in Constantinople in 1858, studied at the École in the late 1870s, the head of his family, Salomon Lévy, broker of the Ottoman Imperial Bank, had his address in the Demir Han in Constantinople. However, during the third year of Alberto’s studies at the École, his mother Rebecca moved to Paris and he resided with her. This may have just been an emergency measure taken by the family, as the school informed Alberto’s contact of his bad grades and “lack of ardor and zeal” in his studies, though he was not badly behaved, and did not miss lectures43. In 1897, we find him living in Smyrna, without any mention of his profession. Another family with lasting connections with both France and the Ottoman Empire were the Perpignanis. Nicolas Perpignani, born in Constantinople and a graduate of the class of 1893, was probably related to the Constantinople-born 1867 graduate Marc Perpignani, who died in a French spa in 1874. Nicolas was later managing director of the Société de constructions civiles et industrielles in Paris.

28Besides French, Greek and Turkish, Alberto spoke Spanish, most probably as his mother tongue. In some cases, the “Spanish connection” of the Ottoman Jews seems to have shaped their professional careers. David Veneziani was born in Constantinople in 1862, probably into the well-known franco family whose ancestors came to the Sultan’s domain from the Italian lands. During David’s studies, his father lived off his private income in Paris. After receiving a mere certificate (rather than a diploma) from the École centrale, David resided in the Spanish city of Málaga and worked as a railroad and works inspector at the Compañía de los ferrocarriles andaluces, a Spanish company founded in 1877 by Joaquín de la Gándara y Navarro and Jorge Loring y Oyarzábal, a “ponts et chaussées” engineer and graduate of the Spanish Escuela de Caminos. Both were prominent members of the Spanish Conservative Party. What is remarkable in the context of this article is that the company’s capital was only in part Spanish (Banco Hipotecario Español) and that the French investors (Banque Camondo, Paribas and Crédit industriel et commercial) were represented, among others, by the count Isaac de Camondo. The first president of the company was the count Abraham de Camondo (1877-1888), followed by a line of extremely prominent Spaniards linked to the Conservative Party, including Antonio Cánovas del Castillo (1888 and 1892-1895), Eugenio Page (1897-1899) and Emilio Cánovas del Castillo (1900-1910). The Camondos remained engaged in the company until 1920, when Moises de Camondo resigned from the board together with other representatives of the French investors44. In France, the Camondos were known as “the Rothschilds of the East”. In fact, they competed in Spain with the “real” Rothschilds, who were the main shareholders of the MZA, the biggest railway company in southern Spain45. In view of the Ottoman-Jewish-French-Spanish connection, the appointment of David Veneziani discussed above may be more than mere coincidence.

  • 46 Annuaires of the years 1897 and 1920.

29Léon Lévy, born in Constantinople in 1867, ventured much farther afield after he graduated in 1888. An exceptional student at the lycée Condorcet, he lived during his studies with his father Salomon, a stock market broker in Paris. Later, Léon established himself in Chile, where in the late 1910s he took charge of the works of the port of Talcahuano. It was hardly a coincidence that Chile and Talcahuano had appeared two decades previously in the professional trajectory of another centralien with Ottoman links who specialized in port construction and amelioration. 1864 graduate Alfred Lévêque of Soissons, France held positions including engineer at the works in the port of Smyrna, engineer-in-chief for maritime works of the Government of Chile, architect of the City of Alger, and then, back in Chile, as engineer-in-chief of the construction of a dry dock in Talcahuano. Lévêque had returned to France in 1897, but it is almost certain that there was some connection between his work for the Chilean government, his posting in Talcahuano and Léon Lévy’s business in the same port in the late 1910s46. Lévy was not the only Ottoman Jew who worked in Latin America. Ernest Farraggi-Vitalis, also born in Salonica and a graduate of the class of 1900, was manager of mines for Ticapampa in Peru before returning to Paris as an engineer-constructor. Although several Egyptian Jews went back to Egypt and obtained posts in the Egyptian administration, this was not the case for Cairo-born Henri Diamanti, who graduated in 1885. He worked in Cascatinha, near Petropolis in Brazil. Other graduates managed to exploit their French, Spanish and Ottoman ties at the same time. Maurice de Toledo, born in Adrianople and a graduate of the class of 1900, was secretary-general of the Société d’Héraclée (most probably the prosperous and influential Société ottomane d’Héraclée, a mining company exploiting the Zonguldak mining basin that was to a great extent exploited by the French) and head engineer of Société Tréport-Terasse Ld. In 1920 he could be found in Paris at the Spanish-French Technical Office.

  • 47 Bimsenstein’s classmate from the class of 1879, Louis Chenut, born in Choisy-le-Roi, France, also w (...)
  • 48 Nonetheless, some men headed from Cairo to Istanbul. This was the case of Mahmoud Fayed, a Cairo-bo (...)

30Unlike the Ottoman Armenian centraliens, we find hardly any Ottoman Jews working for the Ottoman government. However some worked in countries that had once been part of the Ottoman domains. The case of Guillaume Bimsenstein is rather interesting. He was born in the Anatolian city of Trebizonde (Trabzon). His surname speaks of an Ashkenazy, rather than Sephardi origin, so it is doubtful that his paternal family had ever been Ottoman subjects. After he graduated in 1879, he was apparently a section head for the Serbian railways47. In 1897, he was in Cairo, working as chief inspector of engineering structures for the Egyptian railways. There was another centralien working in the top management of the same company in 1897: Léon Imblon, born in Cairo and a graduate of the École centrale in 1878. He returned to Egypt, where he worked as an engineer in search of oil for the Egyptian Ministry of Public Works. Later, he was head of the central office of the Egyptian railways, and in 1897, while still living in Cairo, he was secretary of the board for the Egyptian railways48.

Skills, networks and career paths of the Ottoman born-graduates

31Whichever ethnoreligious community they came from, most of these students were at least bilingual. Some were true polyglots: according to the school register, Alberto Lévy spoke French, Spanish, Turkish and Greek, while Minas Missack, an Ottoman Armenian who entered the École in 1860, but probably did not complete his studies due to a “family tragedy”, spoke Armenian, Turkish, French, Greek and English. This same language profile was held by Dicran Khorassandji. Besides French and Armenian, Grégoire Humruzian spoke Turkish, Persian and German. Gabriel Servicen spoke French, German, Turkish, Greek, and we may suppose, Armenian. It is very interesting that Nichan Mélik, an Ottoman Armenian, spoke Spanish, as well as French, Italian, and, most probably, Armenian.

32As I have mentioned, École students chose a specific branch of engineering. Out of the three branches of mechanics, construction and metallurgy, the former two were the most popular options among students with Ottoman roots, with Jews favoring mechanics and Armenians construction. This is clearly linked to historical patterns such as the traditional involvement of Ottoman Armenians in construction, and to the expectations held by students and their families about future employment prospects. Nevertheless, individual preferences also came into play and so we find some metallurgists among these students as well.

33The academic achievements of the students varied greatly, mostly from average to weak, though some obtained excellent results. This was the case of Gabriel Servicen, who specialized in construction and did his final project on railways. He finished number 28 out of 164 students and number 8 of 62 within his field. I have earlier noted the remarkable achievement of Isaac Lévy. Some of the students obtained a certificate instead of a diploma, for instance Alberto Lévy, David Veneziani, Hasan Rıza and Léon Mouradian, a fact which in itself did not prevent some of them from going on to have successful professional careers. Nonetheless, there were a few cases of dropouts (fruit sec in the school’s jargon), students unable to finish their studies due to bad academic results. This was the case of Maurice Davician Lévy, born in Yoannina in 1868 in the family of I.E. Davician Lévy Effendi, in charge of managing the Sultan’s properties in Yoannina. Maurice had studied at the lycée Saint-Louis in Paris and lived with a relative, I.D. Lévy, a practitioner of medicine. Though his behavior was good, Maurice struggled with his classes from the very beginning, and the school authorities warned his family several times about this problem. Another dropout was Ballian, who, if actually Sarkis Balyan, would go on to have a stellar career as an architect, including working for the Ottoman sultan along with other members of his prominent family.

34Once they graduated, these young men followed several characteristic career paths. Unlike the Egyptians, Muslim and non-Muslim, there were few Ottoman centraliens who worked for the Ottoman government. In fact, the only ones to build a career in the Ottoman Administration were two of the three Armenians (Servicen and Humruzian) who had studied at the École at the same time. They came from elite families linked to the Ottoman state and may have actually enjoyed some support from the Ottoman government. Unfortunately, the annual bulletins of the Association amicale do not mention any activity of Yervant Khorassan, the only student that we know for certain was sent by the Ottoman government to study abroad (thanks to the documents from the Ottoman archives published by Mustafa Gençoğlu). We know only that in 1897, almost thirty years after his graduation, he was living in the Ottoman city of Salonica. It is much more common to find Ottoman Jewish graduates who returned to the Ottoman Empire working as managers of companies that linked to French and Ottoman Jewish capital. These were mostly mining companies (Fernandez, Toledo), but also included others focused on construction (Tedeschi, Modiano) and transport (Viterbo). Many of the Ottoman Armenian and Jewish centraliens actually worked as engineers at some stage of their life, either in the Ottoman Empire (Fernandez, Servicen, Humruzian,) or elsewhere (Viterbo, Bimsenstein, Veneziani, Samuel Léon, Farraggi-Vitalis, Mélik and Sevadjian). Some of the graduates ended up running businesses related to engineering or managed such companies abroad (Henri and Isak Danon, Léon and Isaac Lévy, Farragi-Vitalis, Samuel Léon, N. Perpignani, Bardisbanian).

35We have observed that ethnoreligious networks in the Empire and the diaspora were mobilized to arrange accommodation and guarantee the adequate supervision of students during their stay in Paris. Several cases of small clusters of students with similar origins (city and/or ethnoreligious community) studying together at a secondary education institution in Paris before going on to the École centrale suggest that close cooperation in organizing children’s studies abroad may have taken place between families. We can speculate about kinship and ethnoreligious ties shaping employment patterns, as well local diasporic appeals made in the homeland and abroad. Gabriel Tedeschi, of an Ottoman Jewish franco family, managed a company owned by another franco Jewish family, the Camondos, and David Veneziani worked for a company in which the Camondos were among the most important shareholders. So too did another centralien with a different origin, the French engineer Émile Foucart. We can detect an an interesting pattern of relying on fellow centraliens in doing business. At least three cases indicate that when a graduate acquired a position of influence, other centraliens came to work in the same place or company, suggesting that managers actively recruited them. This practice was at work across ethnoreligious borders: several centraliens were employed in companies managed by Fernandez. One was a Parisian, another a man with a French name and surname, whose family, nonetheless, was permanently based in the Ottoman capital. It was hardly a coincidence that Léon Lévy did business in the Chilean port where the French centralien Lévêque had previously held a distinguished post.

Conclusions

  • 49 Darina Martykánová, Reconstructing Ottoman Engineers. Archaeology of a Profession (1789-1914), Pisa (...)

36The École centrale attracted a great number of paying students from across the world. Ottomans, particularly non-Muslims, came to study there in important numbers. Their families were willing to invest in a costly preparatory education at French education institutions and to cover the burdensome living costs of their children for many years in the expensive global city of Paris, which elites in Europe and beyond alike perceived as the capital of civilization. This investment was borne from the ambition to reproduce and enhance their families’ wealth and social status in their homeland, but also opened up the possibility of individuals building careers abroad. This latter option became crucial by the end of the 19th century due to the growing tensions among the ethnoreligious communities in the Ottoman domains, several waves of repression launched or stimulated by Ottoman authorities and territorial disintegration due to successful separatist movements. Leaving aside these dramatic moments, there is another factor to consider: the shifting opportunities in terms of acquiring wealth and/or finding good employment. On the one hand, the Ottoman Empire was a land of opportunities for those who were well connected and possessed the right kind of knowledge, skills and credentials, in terms of utility and prestige49. On the other, the global expansion of capitalism and the rise of a common engineering culture that made it possible to work across national, religious and racial boundaries created a dynamic environment where willing and capable men could find professional opportunities in Europe and farther afield. Ottoman non-Muslims successfully navigated this environment by building and mobilizing networks and obtaining credentials that made them attractive as employees, managers and business partners. Much was at stake for them: transferrable skills and credentials were fundamental in a situation of instability, nationalisms and increasing inter-communitarian friction. Concerns for safety and for status shaped decisions about what to study and where, as well as the engineers’ professional trajectory.

37Many of the non-Muslim Ottoman centraliens returned to the Ottoman Empire, but a significant number settled abroad, often by mobilizing ethnoreligious and professional networks. This trend increased toward the end of the Empire. While some Jewish centraliens maintained ties with Turkey after the Great War, Armenians and Ottoman Greeks, whom I have left out of this study, mostly left for good. The patterns in the professional trajectories of Ottoman centraliens help us recreate a world full of opportunities, where highly qualified men could cross borders and build careers with ease, but where, at the same time, origins, allegiances, contacts and credentials mattered greatly. Professional credentials and useful contacts from a prestigious French school helped perpetuate social status in the graduates’ homeland. They also opened doors for foreign recognition, though not to the same degree everywhere. In an age of nationalisms and colonial expansions, geopolitical zones of influences, alliances and animosities heavily shaped the global market for individual experts, while family and ethno-religious networks continued to function efficiently. Ottoman centraliens mainly moved within the current or former Ottoman territories, in France and its colonies, and in countries such as Spain and Latin American republics, where French investment was strongly present and French companies sought French-educated technicians. While in the late 19th century engineers from across the world were slowly building a global community based on mutual recognition, this community was at the same time divided by professional cultures that sometimes merged but other times clashed, and was heavily shaped by factors beyond technical education and expertise.

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Notes

2 André Grelon, “Du bon usage du modèle étranger : la mise en place de l’École centrale des arts et manufactures”, dans André Grelon, Irina Gouzévitch, Anousheh Karvar (dir.), La formation des ingénieurs en perspective. Modèles de référence et réseaux de médiation. xviiie-xxe siècle, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2004, p. 17-21.

3 André Grelon, Irina Gouzévitch, “Reflexión sobre el ingeniero europeo en el siglo xix: retos, problemáticas e historiografías”, in Manuel Silva Suárez (dir.), Técnica e ingeniería en España, vol. 4, El ochocientos: pensamiento, profesiones y sociedad, Zaragoza, Real Academia de Ingeniería/Institución Fernando el Católico/Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza, 2007, p. 269-321. On other French institutions of higher education in engineering, see Antoine Picon, L’invention de l’ingénieur moderne. L’École des chaussées, 1747-1851, Paris, Presses de l’École nationale des ponts et chaussées, 1992; Bruno Belhoste, Amy Dahan-Dalmedico, Antoine Picon (dir.), La formation polytechnicienne: 1794-1994, Paris, Dunod, 1994; Charles R. Day, Education for the Industrial World: The Écoles d’arts et métiers and the Rise of French Industrial Engineering, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1987. On the importance of France and French institutions in shaping engineering beyond French frontiers, specifically in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, see, for example: Élisabeth Longuenesse (dir.), Bâtisseurs et bureaucrates. Ingénieurs et société au Maghreb et au Moyen-Orient, Lyon, Maison d’Orient méditerranéen, 1990. On French engineering culture in a comparative perspective, see, for example: Eda Kranakis, Constructing a Bridge. An Exploration of Engineering Culture, Design, and Research in 19th century France and America, Cambridge, Mass./London, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1997.

4 Programme of the year 1850, École centrale des arts et manufactures.

5 These annuaires are to be found in the library of the École centrale des arts et manufactures.

6 Archives of the École polytechnique, “Élèves étrangers”. Regarding the surveillance of contacts between local and foreign students, see “Règlement concernant les étrangers autorisés par le ministre de la Guerre à suivre comme auditeurs externes les cours de l’École polytechnique”, 18th December 1851, file 1851, VI 2b.

7 On the policy of using fees to finance fellowships, see Grelon, 2004.

8 Güneş Işıksel, Emmanuel Szurek (dir.), Turcs et Français. Une histoire culturelle, 1860-1960, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2014; several chapters of Patricia Lorcin, Todd Shepard (eds.), French Mediterraneans: Transnational and Imperial Histories, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 2016. Specifically on engineers and engineering between France and the Ottoman lands: Darina Martykánová, “Les ingénieurs entre la France et l’Empire ottoman (xviiie-xxe siècle) : un regard mosaïque pour une histoire croisée”, Quaderns d’Historia de l’Enginyeria, XV, 2016, p. 297-319.

9 This seems for instance to be the case of Alfred Charles Arsène Boudon, born in Constantinople. During his studies, his widowed mother resided in Paris. He obtained his diploma in 1895, and he also graduated in law. In 1920, he lived in Paris and was executive manager of the Man. mécanique industriel (former Maison Boudon et Benoist) and managing director of the Société des transporteurs aériens.

10 This topic was first addressed in Martykánová, 2016.

11 For similar reasons, I do not include the sole Tunisian I have found in the annuaires, Raymond Valensi (a graduate of the class of 1870), most probably a Sephardi Jew. Interestingly, some of the Allatini family members were married to people bearing the surname Valensi.

12 For an overview of the 19th-century transformations, see: Dimitrios Stamatopoulos, “From millets to minorities in the 19th-Century Ottoman Empire: An ambiguous modernization”, in Steven Ellis, Gudmundur Hálfdanarson and Ann Katherine Isaacs (eds.), Citizenship in Historical Perspective, Pisa, Edizioni Plus, 2006, p. 253-273.

13 On the Levantines, see, for example: Oliver Jens Schmitt, Les Levantins. Cadres de vie et identités d’un groupe ethno-confessionnel de l’Empire ottoman au “long” xixe siècle, Istanbul, Isis Press, 2007 ; Alessandro Panutti, Les Italiens d’Istanbul au xxe siècle : entre préservation identitaire et effacement, Paris, université de Paris III-Sorbonne nouvelle, 2004.

14 Registre 1898, Annuaire 1920.

15 Unlike contemporary Turkey, most of the names used by Ottoman Muslim men were not used by any other ethno-religious group in the Ottoman Empire. Christians or Jews who converted to Islam would change their names. If a man was called Hasan, Mustafa, Ismail, Osman, Mehmed or Ahmed, we can be almost certain that he was either born Muslim or a convert.

16 There was another non-Egyptian Muslim born on Ottoman territory, though by the time he received his diploma in 1921, his place of birth was no longer Ottoman: Selim Aboussouan, born in Jerusalem (Palestine), and resident in Beirut in 1930.

17 This statement leaves aside Egyptians.

18 On students sent abroad by the Ottoman government, see Mustafa Gençoğlu, Osmanlı Devleti’nce Batı’ya Eğitim Amacıyla Gönderilenler (1830-1908). Bir Grup Biografisi Araştırması, Ph.D. thesis, Ankara, Hacettepe Üniversitesi, 2008; Adnan Şişman, Tanzimat döneminde Fransa’ya gönderilen Osmanlı Öğrencileri (1839-1876), Ankara, Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları, 2004; Id., “Yurt Dışında Tahsil Yapan Burslu Ermeni Asıllı Öğrencileri”, Afyon Kocatepe Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, IV, 2, 2002, p. 1-30; Feza Günergun, “Trained in Europe to serve the State: Preliminary remarks on Ottoman engineers of the 19th century”, in XXIII International Congress of the History of Science and Technology, 28th July-2nd August 2009, Budapest (I am grateful to Feza Günergun for providing me with a written version of her paper). Klaus Kreiser, “Étudiants ottomans en France et en Suisse (1909-1912)”, dans Daniel Panzac (dir.), Histoire économique et sociale de l’Empire ottoman et de la Turquie (1326-1960), Paris, Peeters, 1995, p. 843-854.

19 Annuaire of the year 1930.

20 For works in French and English on Greek engineers, including their links to France, see, for instance, Fotini Assimacopoulou, Konstantinos Chatzis, “Éducation et politique au xixe siècle. Les élèves grecs dans les grandes Écoles d’ingénieurs en France”, in Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu, Kostas Chatzis, and Efthymios Nicolaidis (eds), Multicultural Science in the Ottoman Empire, Τurnhout, Brepols, 2003, p.121-137; Fotini Assimacopoulou, Konstantinos Chatzis, Anna Mahera, “Élève en France, enseignant en Grèce. Les enseignants de l’École polytechnique d’Athènes (1837-1912) formés dans des Écoles d’ingénieurs en France”, in Ana Cardoso de Matos et al. (eds), The Quest for a Professional Identity: Engineers Between Training and Action, Lisbon, Colibri, 2009, p. 25-41; Leda Papastefanaki, “Mining engineers, industrial modernization and politics in Greece, 1870-1940”, The Historical Review/La Revue historique, vol. XIII, 2016, p. 71-115.

21 Interestingly enough, among the students of Ottoman origins who could speak Spanish, there is one who, in view of his name as well as that of his father, was clearly not a Sephardi Jew, but Armenian: Nichan Mélik, son of Stéphan Mélik Effendi, first secretary of the Ottoman Legation in Athens, Greece.

22 Concerning the prominent origins of this particular group, these cases are not dissimilar from those of several Egyptian Armenians, including Joseph Latif Manoug, whose “head-of-family,” Monsieur Manoug, was “president” of the Egyptian Ministry of Public Education. Another such case would be Boghos Nubar Pasha, who received his diploma in 1873. Born in Constantinople, Boghos Nubar Pasha was manager of the Société anonyme d’irrigation in Behera and manager of Chemins de fer égyptiens in Cairo (Egypt).

23 Registre of the year 1877.

24 Rıfat Vedat Yıldırim, Yeşim Işıl Ülman, “A look at the Ottoman social and medical modernization through the life of Dr. Servicen”, Bulgarian Historical Review, December 2013, p. 140-150.

25 Specifically 37, rue de la Bourse (or 37, Bursa Street), Constantinople.

26 Gençoğlu, 2008.

27 On the Balyans, see Alyson Wharton, The Architects of Ottoman Constantinople. The Balyan Family and the History of Ottoman Architecture, London/New York, I.B.Tauris, 2015.

28 Registre of the year 1850. While this Balian is in fact Sarkis Balyan, as the year of birth is the same, Alyson Wharton maintains he had studied at Sainte-Barbe, while the register mentions a M. Priestley, though the two are not mutually exclusive. Alyson Wharton, “Armenian Architects and other ‘Revivalism’”, in Ayla Lepine, Matt Lodder, McKever, Memories, Identities, Utopias, London, Courtauld, 2015, p. 150-167.

29 See, for example, Hasan Kuruyazici (ed.), Armenian Architects of Istanbul in the Era of Westernization (English & Armenian Edition), Istanbul, Hrant Dink Fundation Publications, 2010; Wharton, 2015.

30 This year also stands out for including several female students, all of them French. Annuaire of the year 1930.

31 Annuaire of the year 1930.

32 This might be Isaac Fernandez, son of Salomon Fernandez and Bienvenuta Allatini, married to Emilie Simha Lumbroso in Marseille in 1879. Evanghelos Hekimoglou, The “Immortal Allatini”. Ancestors and Relatives of Noémie Allatini-Bloch (1860-1928), Salonica, Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, 2012, p. 5.

33 See, for instance, Mark Mazower, Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950, Harper Collins, 2004.

34 Nora Şeni, Sophie Le Tarnec, Les Camondo ou l’éclipse d’une fortune, Arles, Actes Sud, 1997, p. 52.

35 Hekimoglou, 2012, p. 4-8.

36 This indicates that the Camondos continued to do business other than banking in the Ottoman lands even after they moved to Paris in 1869.

37 For French investment in the Ottoman domains, see Jacques Thobie, Intérêts et impérialisme français dans l’Empire ottoman (1895-1914), Paris, Sorbonne, 1977.

38 The Allatinis, as a Jewish family sharing notaries and lawyers with the Parisian Jewish upper class, are briefly mentioned in Cyril Grange, Une élite parisienne. Les familles de la grande bourgeoisie juive (1870-1939), Paris, CNRS Éditions, 2016.

39 Hekimoglou, 2012, p. 17-24.

40 Şeni, Le Tarnec, 1997.

41 Hekimoglou, 2012, p. 17-24.

42 Another two centraliens were business partners and agents of the same company, Maison Hennebique pour les travaux de béton armé: the Ottoman Greek, Demetrius Papa and André Richaud, born in Basse-Terre in Guadeloupe. Their company was called Maison Richaud, Papa et Cie (entrepreneurs de travaux publics), later renamed Société cochinchinoise de béton armé, which operated in Saigon, Cochinchine, where Richaud lived, while Papa was the company’s manager in Paris. Annuaire of 1920.

43 Registre of 1877, Annuaire 1897.

44 http://www.raco.cat/index.php/HistoriaIndustrial/article/viewFile/302189/391862

45 Francisco de los Cobos, Tomás Martínez Vara, “Spanish society of secondary railways: The failure of a major international project to create an additional railway network in Spain”, in Ralf Roth, Günther Dinhobl, Across the Borders: Financing the World’s Railways in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2008, p. 86.

46 Annuaires of the years 1897 and 1920.

47 Bimsenstein’s classmate from the class of 1879, Louis Chenut, born in Choisy-le-Roi, France, also worked as an engineer for the Serbian railways, and then continued his career in the Ottoman lands. He was assistant manager of construction at the railway between Salonica and Constantinople. In 1897, he lived in Smyrna, working as representative of the Société ottomane du chemin de fer de Smyrne-Cassaba. Annuaire of the year 1897.

48 Nonetheless, some men headed from Cairo to Istanbul. This was the case of Mahmoud Fayed, a Cairo-born Muslim who graduated in 1904. His case is quite intriguing, as political or criminal issues seem to have been connected to his departure from his post as engineer-in-chief at the Egyptian Ministry of Public Works. In 1920, he was working in the Union-Han in Galata, with his own engineering studio that dealt with surveys and concessions of public works, agriculture, mines and industry.

49 Darina Martykánová, Reconstructing Ottoman Engineers. Archaeology of a Profession (1789-1914), Pisa, Edizioni Plus, 2010, p. 163-173.

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Darina Martykánová, « A Gateway to the World: Jewish and Armenian Engineers of Ottoman Background at the École centrale des arts et manufactures (1853-1923) », Diasporas, 29 | 2017, 33-51.

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Darina Martykánová, « A Gateway to the World: Jewish and Armenian Engineers of Ottoman Background at the École centrale des arts et manufactures (1853-1923) », Diasporas [En ligne], 29 | 2017, mis en ligne le 14 décembre 2017, consulté le 17 octobre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/diasporas/718 ; DOI : 10.4000/diasporas.718

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Darina Martykánová

Darina Martykánová est historienne spécialisée en histoire des professions techniques et en production et circulation transnationale des connaissances techniques et scientifiques. Licenciée en turcologie – histoire et culture des pays islamiques – de l’université Carolina de Prague et docteure européenne en histoire contemporaine (université autonome de Madrid), elle a travaillé à l’université de Potsdam (Allemagne) et à l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (France). Elle est actuellement maître de conférences au département d’histoire contemporaine de l’université autonome de Madrid. Elle est l’auteure du livre Reconstructing Ottoman Engineers. Archaeology of a Profession (1789-1914) (Pisa University Press, 2010).

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