AAC Migration flows, money and credit, Cadiz, June 2015

Histoire Eco Association Française d’Histoire Économique (AFHE).

Reçu ce jour:

Migration flows, money and credit (XVI – XIX centuries): foreign money and absentees’ money.
XI Congreso, Asociación de Demografía Histórica, 21 a 24 de junio de 2016, Cádiz, España


CEBREIRO ARES, Francisco and REY CASTELAO, Ofelia.

Faculty of Geography and History, University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain)

francisco.cebreiro ofelia.rey

Papers could be presented in Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and Italian

A title, abstract (of 150 words) and a resume of max 4 pages should be sent prior to November 29th of 2015

The economic impact of migration is one of the fundamentals in the historical analysis of any population. Yet research into this area is far from complete. This, among many others, was one of the conclusions drawn by the 1st European Conference for Historical Demography (Santiago de Compostela, 1993), with no further investigation having been carried out since in this specific area. More specifically, monetary transfers between regions of origin and those of destination have increasingly gained prominence as a means to explain facts relevant to the development of the sending and receiving societies.

Contemporary observers and scholarly literature from the XIX century has bestowed us with two foundations that still survive in current historiography. On the one hand, the large scale trade involving the metropolis of the two colonial empires and foreigners, either individuals or groups, who used to operate from the varying economic hubs of each period (Italy, Netherlands, France, British Islands, and so on). This flow has been studied mainly from the perspective of monetary drains and the illegal withdrawal of gold and silver coins and precious metals.

On the other hand, we have the favourable effect of the small contributions coming in from migrants’ remittances into the savings of families of origin domestic economies. These small scale financial transferences involved individuals from secondary economic systems and areas. These two different ways of considering the link between money and migration involve rating phenomena by their effects, when really, they can hardly be said to be quantifiable, especially in the second case, on which there is far less bibliography due to shortage of documentation and datasets.

In this session we aim to breach the gulf between both perspectives by taking on different outlooks, and looking at groups, agents, middlemen, networks and quantities. Priority will be given to the comparative study of different groups operating in the same area; to these single groups operating in different areas. Similarly, another goal of this study is to closely observe the role of women in these phenomena, an often forgotten dimension in the larger picture of the study of great trade and monetary flows. Despite having pointed out the interest of the role of women in particular case studies, we should not underestimate the leeway for studying the monetary phenomenon in these areas and groups in the middle and long term.

This perspective, closely linked to the daily comings and goings of the lower classes and the peasantry does not imply that we remain unaware of the great flows in capital caused by the merchant communities and large companies. However, our focus will mostly be on the lesser credit and indebtedness, connected to individuals’ migratory displacement (within the country of origin, and transoceanic, crossing over to America), seeing it through to the early stages of its implementation in the receiving areas.

It would be interesting, and something has already been suggested in this regard, to look for the connections between both kinds of capital flows; minor monetary movements and proletarian credit as they relate to the loftier transfer and financial credit. With a view to distinguishing separate scales in the monetary activities of a group, we primarily need access to a good knowledge of the demographics of that particular group, and their activities in a given time and space. With such data it would be possible to start establishing quantifiable characteristics that could eventually lead us to draw up scales within them.

First, it would be worthwhile to identify the groups that borrow and lend, those, who transferred their wealth across the colonial and European geography, be it in gold and silver, or withtheless conspicuous means of bills. The interlaced accounting between two companies located in different commercial areas would also be an appealing area of study. Thus, different strata and quantities within the same time context could be identified, together with considerations of gender, e. g., Do women lend more to groups in the lower or higher levels? Do menial manual labourers and great merchants share a common creditor?

The difficulties inherent in the study of such a complex reality as money and credit forced us to call upon a full panoply of most diverse documentation. Without discarding lucky finds coming from private archives, our database has its main support in the notarial, taxing and judicial sources. Among notarial sources, in addition to the specific types of credit – obligations, census, "special sales", bills protest, – other documents of a more social nature, so to speak, such as endowments, wills, post-mortem inventories, are also deeply significant in a study of this type.

Any communications concerning these difficulties of method, which imply sources and study skills, related to the issues surrounding migratory flows will be especially welcome.