The scale of expatriation »


French expatriates in Ottoman Egypt

David Todd

In the nineteenth century, Egypt became host to the largest community of French emigrants after the Americas and French Algeria. By the 1870s, an estimated 15,000 French nationals lived in Ottoman Egypt – most of them citizens of France, although a sizeable number were colonial subjects from Algeria. A large proportion of these expatriates left traces in the État civil (civil registers of marriages, births and deaths) of French consulates in Egypt. In particular, these records frequently contain information about the geographical origins of the spouses, parents or deceased – usually the place of birth, often the last place of residence prior to their arrival in Egypt, and sometimes both – as well as their current or last place of residence in Egypt. Each record can therefore be used to infer at least one migratory journey. Almost inadvertently, these legal records have captured a kind of western mobility in the nineteenth century, temporary expatriation in the extra-European world, which has not received as much attention as permanent emigration to settler colonies.

Using the data collected from France’s five consulates in Egypt (Alexandria, Cairo, Ismailia, Port-Said and Suez) between 1792 and 1882, French expatriates in Ottoman Egypt offers visual representations of this wave of migration across the Mediterranean. These images highlight the scale of expatriation; they help identify several of its regional and imperial characteristics; and they facilitate the study of micro-histories of expatriation in an age in which economic exchange between Europe and the Middle East was radically reconfigured. For more information on the location, reliability and limitations of the data, see the last section, “About the data”. All image credits will appear as hover text.


These webpags were built with the help of the King's Digital Lab at King's College London.