Réseaux d’innovations: travaux portuaires dans les villes levantines, 1850-1920
Harbors -- Middle East -- History -- 1850-1920 Harbors -- Mediterranean Region -- History -- 1850-1920 Λιμάνια -- Μέση Ανατολή -- Ιστορία -- 1850-1920 Λιμάνια -- Μεσόγειος, Περιοχή της -- Ιστορία -- 1850-1920
During the second half of the nineteenth century a surge of intense activity in harbour building took place in the Levant. The incorporation of this region to the Western economy resulted in a tremendous increase in trade, which in turn triggered various processes of modernisation. Old towns now acquired a modern transit trade mechanism, which would eventually lead to a radical transformation of the traditional urban context and thus reshaping the physiognomy of the Levantine city. The enterprise involved a number of newly emerging urban agents, such as recently established municipal bodies, port authorities, local commercial chambers, citizens committees, the press, etc., as well as foreigner contractor firms and engineers (in their majority graduates from the Ecole des Ponts et des Chaussées). The preceding activity of Saint-Simonists in the Orient, and the interplay of government officials and foreign diplomats also enter the picture. The paper will examine the actions undertaken of each of these bodies concerning this modernisation process, whether in a national and an imperial context. It will focus particularly on the large technical network of contractors and engineers who transferred know-how and promoted financial interests from one town to another, from Alexandria to Istanbul, from Smyrna to Salonica, from Beirut to Piraeus, and to many other smaller or larger towns of the region (Patras, Chios, Rhodes, Syra, Dedeagatch, Varna, Samsoun, Trabzon, Alexandretta, Haifa etc.). It will also consider the financing aspects of this operation (conventions etc.) that surpassed the individual initiatives taken by ethnic communities, to be raised to the level of public utility.The paper draws from an extensive ongoing research concerning the creation of modern transit commerce infrastructures in the region of Eastern Mediterranean, and their impacts on the modernisation of the traditional towns. It is based mostly on unpublished archival material. An ultimate scope is to enlighten an issue that might be seen as a primitive globalisation process in the region of the Levant.
Includes bibliographical references
Paper presented at Seventh International Conference on Urban History: European City in Comparative Perspective, Panteion University, Athens - Piraeus, Greece, 27-30 October 2004, Session: Eastern Mediterranean Cities compared: Technical networks, town planning and municipal institutions (Greece, the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire) (1820-1925)