Research theme 1 : flows of people, things and knowledge : connections and reconfigurations

This research theme is grounded in a framework at the crossroads of several historiographical developments in Atlantic history. It should be understood as a framework to be tested, a reservoir of questions that dialogue with other spaces with comparable (not similar) functioning and that were clearly in contact with the Atlantic. Naturally, such a project leads to connected, global, transnational and world history, whose variety of appellations reveals a certain imprecision, probably due to the vast regions under investigation. Starting from this theoretical basis, three main directions for research have been selected:

Variety of migration processes and experiences

First, this project will identify the types of migrations. Although any such typology is necessarily somewhat artificial, we remain convinced of the heuristic value of such an approach. The focus will be on certain important groups and figures that are far removed from traditional historiographical subjects. We must question the processes and variability of these groups in time and space, as well as the transport conditions of migrants and the effects of their departure on the places they left. Several aspects will be considered: various forms of forced migration (slavery, indentured servitude, movements related to war violence and atrocities, imperial circulation); religious migrations and those of communities of believers; and migrations related to processes of identity creation and/or politicisation. Second, this theme examines the lived experience of migrating people and their journeys, whether it be as groups, families, or individuals. Reconstructing the interiority of these experiences will use sources such as correspondence and diaries (personal documents), which calls on innovative practices for the writing of history. Finally, following the actual routes of migration is also necessary.

Port-cities : their types, forms and societies

This sub-theme will begin by questioning the very notion of port cities by varying the scale in order to compare these cities, which existed at the crossroads of multiple worlds, with different spatial scales: first all the shores in the Atlantic world; then penetrating into the interior of continents; and finally, on a smaller scale, the ‘port complexes’ or ‘port area’. Second, this research will focus on the history of the urban forms of these port cities by studying their morphology, the built and immaterial heritage resulting from migrations, and the circulation of port-city models. Third, we will study port and maritime societies, in order to revisit an old subject that requires new approaches. Therefore, these port cities will be analysed as spaces for the encounter and comparison of fields (technological, social, and cultural) that evolved at different speeds, and spaces for reinventing identity (social and cultural). This theme will also examine the passage from slavery societies to migrant societies and the construction of gendered identities and their relation to the ordering of urban space.

Flows of knowledge, praticies and goods

This work package is deeply related to the two preceding ones: there can be no circulation of knowledge, practices and goods without the circulation of people and without the places in which it occurs. The following list of research subjects, as with migrations, is not intended to set the types of flows in stone, but to identify what may be nested and interconnected: the circulation of cultural products, which are goods connecting collective and individual histories; and the flow of goods and people to better understand passenger transport conditions and the forms of crossings. Finally, the creation of networks (of goods, knowledge, traders, etc.) and their changes over space and time are related to the previous subjects. We will pay particular attention to the interaction of European and Atlantic dynamics and beyond in other maritime areas.

Coordination of research theme 1 :

Françoise LE JEUNE
Mis à jour le 29 June 2020.