Mobilities, international business and global mining capitalism. The French mining engineers abroad (19-20th cent.)

Mobilities, international business and global mining capitalism. The French mining engineers abroad (19-20th cent.)

Digital project coordinated by Marco Bertilorenzi

Project overview

This research project investigates the mobilities of the French Ingénieurs civils des mines (ICM – Civil mining engineers) during the 19th and 20th century.
Usually, the scholarly studies about engineers mainly focus on the transfers of technologies and techniques that came along with the mobility of these skilled workers.  Although technology transfer is an important aspect, this research project would like to extend our understanding about the engineers’ mobility, integrating  the transfer of capital (foreign direct investments, explorations, multinational companies) and of commodities behind their mobilities. On the one hand, the study of the mobility of French ICM can be used to chart and account the spread of French capitals abroad, both in the French colonial empire and in other countries. Engineers only seldon move following their own personal goals, in many cases they were sent as agents of large firms that had clear strategies of foreign direct investments or resources exploitation/exploration.
On the other hand, the linkage, through ICMs, between France and other countries can shed light on the creation of complex commodity chains, exploitation of resources and a growing integration of the global mining economy. Actually, the impact of French investments abroad was not only an outcome of the colonial policy, but it entailed the creation of private strategies of business groups in a wide range of countries outside the French colonial empire, like in Russia, Latin America, and Arabian and Far East regions. The research project adopts both qualitative and quantitative perspectives. It is based on a large database of ICM, who were formed in the French Ecole des mines de Saint-Etienne between 1880 and 1970, and tracks the mobilities of engineers through several benchmarks were it is recorded the firm for which ICMs worked, the hierarchical position they had and the place of their activity.
The prosoposophical study of this group can reveal the nexus between personal choices of economic actors in their mobilities and the macro-economic position of the flow of French investments abroad. The project also involves the adoption of new technologies and tool, like ArcGis and StoryMaps , thanks to the involvement of Mobilab.

Research team:

  • Prof. Marco Bertilorenzi
  • Dr. Jean-Philippe Passaqui (Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne)
  • Prof. Nadine Dubruc (Ecole des mines de Saint-Etienne)
  • Dr. Marco Orlandi


The publication of a workable database including the carrier of about 4000 French civil mining engineers
Joint publications and workshop on this topic, in collaboration with the international partners
Attract interns to assign some work on the construction of the database

Occupational structure and labour mobility in historical perspective (1500-1850): Italy and the Mediterranean

Occupational structure and labour mobility in historical perspective (1500-1850): Italy and the Mediterranean

Digital project coordinated by Andrea Caracausi

Project overview

This research project explores the evolution of occupational structures and labour mobility from a long-term perspective. It addresses both the way people worked and were on the move in the past and specifically how their occupational choices, migrations and labour relations were affected by global dynamic forces such as warfare mobilization or structural economic changes. By focusing on Italy and the Mediterranean area from the late medieval period to the beginning of the nineteenth century, the project aims to shed new light on the continuity and changes in work, labour mobility, and geographical diffusion of economic activities. It will also contribute to the reconstruction of a bigger picture on a European scale as part of a larger project on occupational structures coordinated by the University of Cambridge ( In collaboration with the Digital Laboratory for Mobility Research (MobiLab), the research will combine quantitative and qualitative analysis of empirical sources (such as census or lists of convicts and slaves) with the use of digital tools. In particular, GIS techniques will be used in order to map the mobility of people and their shifting occupations as well as to improve the understanding of mobility phenomena from an analytical point of view.



Occupational structure and labour mobility. A first aspect of the research project directed by Prof. Andrea Caracausi deals with the link between changing occupational structures and labour mobility in the Republic of Venice between the early sixteenth century and the beginning of the modern period (1500-1850). Discussing the consequences of political and economic changes that occurred in this period, this project aims ultimately to reconstruct the evolution of the occupational structure in the diverse territories of the Venetian Republic and to explain its determinants using an innovative statistical methodology. It also deals with social, economic and gender aspects using micro-historical approaches to reconstruct labour relations and labour mobility.  In particular, it uses a verb-oriented approach in order to reconsider occupations as well as concepts as work, care and domestic labour in a gendered perspective. Thanks to Gis methods, it focuses on the movement of urban and rural people as represented by judicial sources, correspondences and diaries.

Woman’s work in rural Italy (1500-1800). This project aims to provide a better understanding of the historical dynamics surrounding gender and work between the sixteenth and the eighteenth century in rural Italy. By incorporating diverse research methodologies and exploring various geographical contexts across the peninsula, we strive to shed light on the multifaceted nature of female participation in the pre-industrial labour force.


Past projects

Mobility and forced labour. A second aspect of the research project coordinated by the postdoctoral fellow Benoît Maréchaux explores the phenomena of forced mobility of convicts and slaves transported to the galleys of Genoese galley contractors who worked for the Spanish Empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. The research will reconstruct the transnational flows of prisoners, analyze the agency of forced mobility and measure mortality in order to discuss the impact of coerced labor and migrations in the past and the way prisoners worked, moved and died in the early modern Mediterranean. This research is part of the project “Forced mobility before the sovereign state. Convict flows, composite polities and the business of galley warfare in the Mediterranean (1528-1715)” carried out at the DiSSGeA within the framework of the Mobility and Humanities project.


Research team:

  • Prof. Andrea Caracausi (occupational structure and general coordinator)
  • Dr. Giulio Ongaro (occupational structure)
  • Dr. Marco Orlandi (Gis and data visualization)


Past members:

  • Dr. Benoît Maréchaux (forced mobility, convict labor and slaves)

Interns (Update 27 January 2022):

  • Anna Maria Albertini
  • Giacomo Addis
  • Claudio Cacciatori
  • Giovanna Cozzi
  • Enrico Comini
  • Gianluca Dalboni
  • Marco De Nardi
  • Samuele Fagherazzi
  • Alma Fanigliulo
  • Giovanni Favretto
  • Alex Franz
  • Simone Tommasi
  • Alberto Peloso
  • Giorgia Ragana
  • Dana Belen Zuna
  • Gianluca Dalboni
  • Francesca Scipilliti

CoDato: a research project in the study of the circulation of latin texts

CoDato: a research project in the study of the circulation of latin texts

CoDato aims at providing a fundamental resource for the study of the transmission of Latin classical texts and their circulation in Europe: the Codices Vossiani Latini Online. The digital archive gathers 363 codices which form the world-famous Latin part of Isaac Vossius’ manuscript collection held at the Leiden University Library. The database is a fundamental tool both for philologists and paleographers interested in textual and paratextual elements of the Codices Vossiani, and for historians and scholars dealing with history of books and book collections.

MAPFLY project: cartographic WebGIS of the University of Padova

MAPFLY project: cartographic WebGIS of the University of Padova (co-financing)

The Mobility & Humanities Project of Excellence is a co-funder of the ongoing MAPFLY project, led by the Department of Geosciences and aimed at providing the University of Padova with new technological infrastructures to access, visualise and navigate the massive volume of historical map collections stored in several departments of the University. These cartographic collections are distributed over various libraries (in particular the Geography, Geosciences and Engineering libraries). Currently, these materials are not accessible via WebGIS platforms. Therefore, the project aims to provide the University with new dynamic tools to enhance the usability of the collections for topological queries (digitalization, archiving, implementation  of the web platform based on ArcGIS). This mobilisation of the cartographic heritage and knowledge of our University, scheduled for 2021, is critical to the Mobility & Humanities Project. Not only can the factual movements of people or materials be more effectively traced on historical and recent maps but also the cartographic heritage and knowledge of our University can be incorporated into new research and communication practices with the extra-academic audience through the public engagement’s initiatives promoted by the Museum of Geography.

About the MapFly PROJECT

The University of Padova claims an impressive cartographic heritage, dated from 1668 to the present day, distributed in various Libraries and Departments and not yet known as it deserves. In particular, the Geography and Geosciences Libraries preserve over 40,000 maps of various types, from topographic and geographical maps to geological, geothematic and historical maps.

Thanks to the Mapfly Project, funded by the call “Infrastrutture Immateriali di Ricerca” (Intangible Research Infrastructures) of the University of Padova and which entered its operational phase in November 2020, this cartographic heritage is made available to the public (fall 2021) through the creation of a WebGIS portal. This allows us to verify the presence of maps for the area of ​​interest by searching the basemap. As it regards historical cartography in the public domain, it also allows to view the georeferenced digital reproduction on the web and proceed with the download of the same in the form of a file (GeoTIF) to be used locally on a GIS device (including maps published in “Memorie di Scienze Geologiche”).

The Web App will greatly enhance the accessibility to the extraordinary cartographic resources of the University, which have been difficult to be consulted and searched through traditional catalogs until now. Through the WebApp it will in fact be possible to know the availability of all the cartographic heritage for the area of ​​interest, to filter it by type of map or on a temporal basis, and (for the part with a digital representation available) proceed with the diachronic study of a territory using the techniques of representations (transparencies) offered by the App or by downloading and superimposing the cartography of interest in a GIS.

The portal was developed on the model of prestigious international agencies, in particular USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer, and involved transversal skills: expert GIS technicians for georeferencing and for the creation of an additional Web App dedicated to data entry and the development of the web interface; student collaborators for the description of the encumbrance polygons of the cartography; librarians for cataloging, for analysing descriptive metadata and for linking maps to both the catalog and the University repository of digital collections. A technological partner supported the development of the Web App and its installation on the server. The acquisition of the digital maps was carried out on a scanner developed for this service.”

Using the app is simple:

  • 1. Find or search for your place of interest.
  • 2. Select map categories, if needed.
  • 3. Click on the map view to see which maps are available for that location.
  • 4. Select the scale, if necessary, and use the timeline to explore thumbnails of the maps, see their extent and select the ones you need.
  • 5. Check in which libraries the maps are stored, with the link to the catalog Galileo Discovery in the side panel, or view the available maps..
  • 6. Use the slider for each map in the side panel to control its transparency and compare it to other maps.
  • 7. Download the georeferenced map, if you wish, or see the images in high resolution through Phaidra.
  • 8. Press the button Reset before changing place.

To report any problem or for more information about the project, please contact us at the following email address: .