Between 1815 and 1870, when European industrialisation was in its infancy and Britain enjoyed a technological lead, thousands of British workers emigrated to the continent. They played a key role in several sectors, like textiles, iron, mechanics, and the railways. These men and women thereby contributed significantly to the industrial take-off in continental Europe. Artisans Abroad examines the lives and trajectories of these workers who emigrated from manufacturing centres in Britain to France, Belgium, Germany, and other countries, considering their mobilities, their culture, their politics, and their relations with the local populations. Fabrice Bensimon reminds us that the British economy was not just oriented towards the Empire and the USA, but also towards the continent, long before the European Union and Brexit, and shows the critical role played by migrant workers in the Industrial Revolution. Artisans Abroad is the first social and cultural history of this forgotten migration.
Fabrice Bensimon is a historian of the nineteenth century and professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of Sorbonne Université. He is a member of the research unit Centre d'histoire du XIXe siècle (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne / Faculty of Arts and Humanities of Sorbonne Université). His research focuses on political, social and labour history in the United Kingdom and in Ireland and on the concepts of migrations, transfers and circulations between Great Britain and France.