Accepted paper:

People, animals and land in movement: dynamics of social and economic change in the western Alps valley floors (1738-1870)


Matteo Tacca (Laboratorio di Storia delle Alpi)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the complex changing relationships between people and mountain resources in the western Alps between the 18th and the 19th century.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the process of economic and social changes that affected mountain areas and valley floors between the 18th and the 19th century, particularly regarding the way highlands and lowlands have been exploited. I have chosen a western Alps valley floor located between Albertville and Chambery, known as Combe de Savoie, as a case study. This specific portion of land has been subject in turn to two different dominations: first the Savoyard State and then, starting from 1860, the second French Republic. Both governments drew up a cadaster, respectively in 1738 and 1870; these two sources of information provided a detailed account of soil typology and exploitation of land by local protagonists. My paper analyses the differences between these sources from the point of view of two communities based in the Combe de Savoie: Sainte Hélène sur Isère and Les Marches. Their economy was mainly based on complementary exploitation of the land of low valley floors and high mountain pastures. The documentation provided by the communities archives highlights the exploitation practices of these pastures and the movements of people and animals, even travelling long distances. The cross-analysis of cadastral and local sources of information will illustrate how these practices changed during the great territorial reorganization in the first half of the 19th century. Particular attention shall be paid to the management of common goods, whose image underwent major changes, and represented an important source of income for the local communities.

panel P020
People and wilderness coming back - negotiating mobility and 'immobility': the case of the Alps and other European mountainous regions