Portable Europe – Christian objects in circulation: human mobility and the recomposition of European cultures (16th – 18th centuries)

Marie Lezowski, a researcher in modern history at the University of Angers, receives support from the Alliance Europa Institute for European and Global Studies for her project from 2017 to 2021.

General hypothesis of the research project. From frozen treasures to global circulation: revisiting religious objects

At a time when Europe is faced with the challenge of religious extremism, history sheds useful light on the considerable mobility of confessional identities over the past centuries. A major indication of this mobility is the extensive trafficking of religious objects, which took place within Europe, but also between Europe and the New World: a new field in the world history of modern Europe, “devotional economy” (A. Burkardt) is still largely unexplored.

This project, which includes religious artefacts and small mobile objects known as “devotional objects”, aims to understand the spiritual, social and legal functioning of the circulation of Christian objects, which goes against any fixed conception of borders in Europe. Who were the privileged actors of this circulation, and what was the impact on their point of origin and arrival?

Two complementary approaches: mobility and sacrilegious theft

– Religious objects on the roads: identity vs. mobility: 1/ Exploring experiences of mobility 2/ Following the perpetual expansion of modern Europe towards the New World and the Levant

– Sacred objects and “sacrilegious theft”.

Planned Activities

  • The foundation of this research work rests on examining the wide circulation of religious objects around Milan, a choice location to observe the global flows of religious objects in modern Europe. Two main areas of study focus on the exchanges Milan had with the West Indies (the province of Paraguay, for example) and with the Levant (the Holy Land and where Syria currently stands).
    Trips to Milan are planned to work with the anticipated sources for each archival repository (first trip in Spring of 2017)
  • The organisation of a multidisciplinary colloquium on the theme of "The Christian Object on the Roads: self-projection and relationship towards the Other (Europe,
    The New World, the Levant), sixteenth-eighteenth centuries", Autumn of 2018 (Angers or Nantes).

Project Leader



Lecturer in modern history at the TEMOS at the University of Angers

Research themes :

– cultural and religious history of early modern Italy (c. 1550 – c. 1750)

– commercial, spiritual and legal issues of the circulation of Catholic objects

Associate Researcher at TEMOS

Associate Researcher at CéSor (Centre d’études en sciences sociales du religieux) – EHESS

Partnership with Alliance Europa :

Marie Lezowski benefits from the Attractiveness scheme for her research activities – More about her project “Portable Europe – Christian objects in circulation: human mobility and the recomposition of European cultures (16th-18th centuries)”.

TEMOS – CNRS FRE 2015, Universities of Angers, South Brittany, Le Mans

TEMOS – CNRS FRE 2015, Universities of Angers, South Brittany, Le Mans

TEMOS (Times, Worlds, Societies) brings together teacher-researchers and research support staff from the universities of Angers, Southern Brittany, Le Mans and the CNRS.

TEMOS is a two-year research training programme (FRE 2015), with sixty full members and as many doctoral students working on the four periods of history, from antiquity to the very present day (sections 32 and 33 of the CoNRS). Their research focuses on various human organisations and geographical areas conducive to international cooperation; their subjects are multi-disciplinary, resulting in numerous collaborations with other disciplines: literature, law, political science, geography, life sciences, medicine, environment.


University of Angers

University of Angers

The University of Angers offers master courses in law, economics and management and contributes to the research areas of the Institute for European and Global Studies.