CFP: Exchanges, Mobility and Collaborations – The World of Silk between France and Italy, 16th-19th Century (Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon – 22 Nov 2024)

Silk has been approached in recent historiography as a material whose production and consumption played a crucial role in the formation of the modern world, notably due to the multiplicity and complexity of the exchanges this precious fibre gave rise to.

The topic of Franco-Italian relations around silk brings us to explore the multi-faceted issues — socio-economic, political, environmental, artistic and cultural — that underlie these exchanges. These relations between two neighbouring spaces, among the main producers and consumers of silk and silk fabrics in early modern Europe, have been the subject of significant studies which have highlighted their importance in the history of trade and manufacturing.

Building on this research, this conference aims to continue the exploration of the silk relations between France and Italy through a different lens, by fostering a dialogue between studies that have hitherto often been separated by historiographical traditions. Indeed, this topic raises questions pertaining to a variety of fields, such as the social and economic history of both urban and rural areas, political and institutional history, the history of science and technology, environmental history, gender history, as well as art history, history of fashion, and museum studies.

This conference therefore wishes to engage with this multiplicity of perspectives through an interdisciplinary approach. Analysing the entire supply chain (from mulberry cultivation to fabric consumption, including yarn production and preparation, pattern creation, and weaving process) through the same set of questions will also help unveiling the interplay between the different stages of production and consumption.

This conference aims as well to examine the manufacturing and commercial relations between France and Italy through the viewpoint of the actors and their collaborations. The goal is to explore these exchanges beyond their competitive and conflictual nature, which, while certainly present, is not fully representative of the Franco-Italian silk world. By focusing on the actors of this industry, it becomes possible to approach it from the perspective of connections, networks, and collaborations.


Moïra Dato (Universität Bern)

Jean-Baptiste Vérot (Université de Franche-Comté)

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