This article builds on the concept of linked ecologies to present a study of the occupational careers of French colonial governors between 1830 and 1960. We consider empires as the by-product of social entities structuring themselves. Specifically, we analyse the process of empowerment of this emerging group with respect to other professional groups within the imperial space and the French metropolitan space. Using data on the career of 637 colonial governors between 1830 and 1960, we examine how variations in the recruitment of these high civil servants actually reflect the empowerment of this social entity. We rely on optimal matching technique to distinguish typical sequence models and identify ten common career trajectories that can be grouped in four main clusters. We further compare the share of each clusters in the population of governors over time and show that the rise of the colonial cluster during the Interwar period corresponded to the peak of the administrative autonomy in the colonial space. We argue that this process is consistent with the empowerment of the governors' corps, which is embodied by a common career within the colonial administration and a collective identity as a group.
state employment decisions empowerment French colonial Empire 19th century 20th century