Foreigners in the Deep Hearth of Medieval and Early Modern Societies (Europe, the Mediterranean and the Muslim World)

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  DO PACOA conference organized by David Do Paco, HEC MW Fellow 2013-2014, Francisco Apellaniz and Cedric Quertier

18-20 June 2014

Villa Schifanoia

In Medieval and Early Modern Europe, foreigners cannot anymore be considered in the fringe of society or as a distinctive feature in the legal landscape. Their presence is regular, familiar and broadly and deeply socially spread. Since a decade, history of foreigners has been undergone an important revival and an acute attention paid on their diversity of origins, the way their presence is identified and the forms it take, their social visibility and cultural representation, the possible indifference shown to them or the diversity of their social trajectories (from a sporadic presence to lightning upward mobility). Foreigners are usually defined by their cultural, political and legal features, i. e. a set of legal rights allowed in a specific area and related to a possible political protection. Their extraneity can allow and guarantee their privileges as well as restrict their practices. Due to the fact that every foreign community doesn’t enjoy the same privilegies in a same society, being a foreigner refers to pluralist legal and social realities that have to be contextualized and analysed. Hence, extraneity is an asymmetric whole of legal minorities in medieval and early modern societies, where being part of a minority is nothing but the norm. In that sense, extraneity is not necessary an obstacle to integration and being a foreigner could be the result of a political will to protect some local groups in marginalising or favouring some foreign communities as well as it could be the opportunity for the ruling class to weaken rival social groups in promoting foreigners as newcomers. Extraneity affects a huge part of the urban medieval and early modern societies. Besides, the foreign legal status and social bonding have to connected. Social history tempts to observe foreigners according to the alliances and allegiances that they share, look for or cannot avoid. Consequently, naturalization is not necessary the accomplishment of the social integration, to the extend that a foreigner can be able to handle more legal liberties than local communities in order to make a place economically attractive. History of the social integration of foreigners depends on forbidden, possible, achieved or broken relationships between two minority groups respectively from the diversity of the “natural subjects” and the diversity of the foreigners. History of foreigners contrasts and allows figuring out the history of the society in which they actually evolved and are settled. In order to multiply and cross the focuses, scholars working on a large European area, from the Atlantic to the Ottoman World and from Scandinavia to Mediterranean have been invited to present their works.

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