Mobility and Migration since Early Modern Times

Migration is not a modern phenomenon. From ancient times onwards, people migrated, from poor and/or instable to richer and stable regions. Work, career, trade, persecution, war, famine, artistic possibilities, many different motivations underly the migration movements. Not only the elite or artists moved across Europe and beyond, but also craftsmen, mercenaries, scholars, students, businessmen, clergy or day labourers. Ancient Rome counted many nationalities and minorities. Today, the picture is rather similar, but now non-Europeans move en masse to European countries instead of the other way around, as was the case for many centuries. Switzerland became an immigration country only recently; for most of its history, it was a country from which people wanted to emigrate, although Europe’s most famous writers, such as Erasmus, Rousseau and Calvijn (who was a French national) moved to Switzerland or rather the independent city states. The Swiss guard in the Vatican is perhaps the best known example of Swiss labour emigration. The exhibition at the Barfüsserkirche in Basel explores the many different types of migration that have taken place over the centuries as well as the various factors that have motivated people to leave from or to move to Switzerland and Basel in particular, but the pattern applies to many other European countries.