CE41 - Inégalités, discriminations, migrations

Communal Solidarities. Mutual aid networks of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish minorities and diasporas (17th-18th century) – SOLIDAMIN

Submission summary

"Pour toi, Arménie..." (For you, Armenia...). In France, this refrain recalls the surge of solidarity that swept through Europe after the 1988 Spitak earthquake: on the initiative of a famous member of the Armenian diaspora, funds were collected and sent to the other side of the continent for distribution. Dispersed communities have carried out such operations for centuries. In the 17th and 18th centuries, religious divisions and wars tore Europe apart. Money, people, information and know-how circulated on the occasion of large collections and international relief operations. However, "long-distance" relief can't be considered as "humanitarian aid" at that time. Primarily, oppressed co-religionists were helped through collections and money transfers, such as those organised by Protestant groups in England, the United Provinces, the Swiss Confederation and the Holy Roman Empire.
The SOLIDAMIN project will investigate how mutual aid practices enabled religious and diasporic minorities to construct their collective belonging across 17th and 18th century Europe. It will provide a cross-sectional and comparative analysis of a wide variety of relief operations involving dispersed communities, in particular Calvinist Protestants (Huguenots, Walloons), Jews (Judeo-Iberians, Italian Jews), Catholics (exiled British Catholics, Oriental Catholics), but also French 'political' emigrants following the French Revolution.
This project, which is situated in a perspective of social history on a European scale, is innovative in its global and comparative approach to the solidarity networks of this period. Three lines of work will be pursued.
1/ It will ask how the various arguments developed around solidarity practices account for the link caused by the exchange of goods. The "minority fact" raises the question of the boundaries of the collective, of assigned or fantasised common identities, and of the significance of solidarity in the consolidation or weakening of constituted social groups.
2/ It will study the financial flows managed by networks and attributed according to normative criteria. The infrastructures of solidarity require advanced skills, but also a network of followers to implement operations, and thus form a shifting geography that is not the same as that of the paths of exile.
3/ It will examine the circulations of goods, people and values as structuring minority groups. They define the "territories" of diasporas and connect communities, articulating the "local" to the "global".
Charitable features such as the habit of answering calls for help, techniques of persuasion, the circulation of funds, the control of distribution are incubators of wider socio-religious developments. They contribute to the development of collective identities across Europe, to the imposition of norms of behaviour or to the emergence of philanthropy, for it is often through their margins that societies are transformed.
The SOLIDAMIN project has three objectives: (1) To take the measure of collection and mutual aid operations for the benefit of, or by, minority groups in the 17th and 18th centuries, thanks in particular to the creation of a GIS documentary database, based on the Linked Open Data principle. (2) Compare the practices (oscillating between connivance and competition) of the assistance economy of these different groups. (3) Valorise the results in an online documentary atlas (webmapping) to disseminate them to the public and provide a heuristic tool for researchers. It is based on a collaboration between thirteen historians from French and European institutions (Spain, England, the Netherlands), to which will be added a research engineer, several master's students and a web developer.

Project coordination

Mathilde Monge (France, Amériques, Espagne, Sociétés, Pouvoirs, Acteurs)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


FRA.M.ESPA France, Amériques, Espagne, Sociétés, Pouvoirs, Acteurs

Help of the ANR 469,169 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2021 - 36 Months

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