Mapping Early Modern Diasporas. Minorities, Translocal Societies and Shifts in Scales


Mathilde Monge (University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès)




Goethe University Frankfurt (Campus Westend) and Zoom Meeting

Early modern diasporas have been referred to as ‘translocal societies’. ‘Persecuted’ believers such as French-speaking Calvinists, British Catholics, Mennonites, also Quakers or Iberian (Sephardic) Jews, among others, established communities around Europe and colonial societies, mostly in the main commercial cities. At the local level, they were minorities, but at the ‘macro’ level, their interconnectedness was put to use either by themselves or by their business partners. Space was thus embedded in their experience of community, whether as a distance to overcome, as a territory to cross, or as a jurisdictional border that they had to account for. Diasporas, as communities, thus have a spatial dimension as well as a temporal one: they have a ‘life cycle’ over the course of which phases emerge, along fits and starts, accelerations, plateaus and declines. The sizes of communities and of migrations are two among many indicators of this. Mapping early modern diasporas thus seems a heuristic necessity for research, but it remains also a challenge: disparities in the available documentation are less of a problem than the methodological one of representing a three-dimensional phenomenon in a significant way.

This presentation was part of the POLY Lecture Series on “Space and Religion II”, held in the winter term of 2023 and 2024. Click here for more information.

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