Mobility and the humanities at the university of Padua

In 2018 the Department of Historical and Geographic Sciences and the Ancient World of the University of Padua (DiSSGeA) was selected by ANVUR, the Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Systems, as Department of Excellence for the period 2018-2022. Thanks to this achievement, DiSSGeA received 6,000,000 € from the Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research for strengthening research activities, developing excellent teaching methods and enhancing its international profile.

Combining mobility studies and research in the humanities, as early suggested by Merriman and Pearce (2017), the project gave us the opportunity to become a research hub for the humanistic study of mobility, meaning the movement of people, objects, ideas and texts in past and present societies as well as in different geographical contexts.

The project funded the recruitment of new staff members, as well as the development of two research infrastructures: a Centre for Advanced Studies in Mobility & Humanities (MoHu), and a Digital Laboratory for Mobility Research (MobiLab).

The project also included a series of initiatives fostering excellence in education, such as a new curriculum in Mobility Studies within the Historical Sciences Master programme, and PhD and post-doc research grants supporting research on mobility.


Since then our international network has grown including several foreign universities, centres and institutions. Taking advantage of a rich and unique mix of disciplines, with a distinctive reference to the connections between past and present times (from antiquity to contemporaneity), our Department now firmly contributes to the area of mobility study through the humanities.



Starting from a collaborative stance, the Centre for Advanced Studies in Mobility and the Humanities (MoHu), hosted at DiSSGeA, configures itself as a place where intellectual exchange and hospitality take a crucial part in the development of brand-new research directions. Key speakers in the field of the mobility humanities are regularly invited to further elaborate on, and advance, our research activities. This way, the Centre stimulates collaboration around interdisciplinary research, consolidating the international standing of DiSSGeA and making it more attractive.

Technological and societal advancement have moved toward an increased interest in mobilities and their complexities. While this has been the object of a major involvement by the hard and social sciences, the humanities can play an equally important role in understanding mobility in a diachronic and spatial perspective. Thanks to a multifaceted, plural and inclusive conceptualisation of mobility, an expanding methodological creativity involving a variety of sources, and the convergence of social and humanities research, mobility studies today can bring together a multiplicity of movement-related phenomena.

Our Centre intends to contribute to the rethinking of mobility phenomena from a humanistic perspective. Mobilities are not limited to transport or migratory challenges, but include a variety of subjects, as for example: movements of knowledge, ideas and political cultures; movements and translation of books and textual traditions; landscape mobility practices; walking and creative methodologies; the narration and representation of movement; movements of goods and related meanings; intellectual infrastructures and the mobilisation of cultural objects. In such a framework, the synergy between the different disciplines within DiSSGeA allows, on one hand, to contextualise the impact of mobility phenomena in the contemporary world and, on the other, to study the profound dynamism of societies in all historical epochs. Historicising mobilities, thus, is also seen as an opportunity to critically rethink present and future mobilities.


5 Department research clusters develop interdisciplinary activities and subprojects