I found Kiva Silver’s article in this month’s issue of French History particularly fascinating. If you have institutional access to the journal, take a few minutes to read her research. Otherwise, the abstract gives you richer picture of the social history of migrant masons in France and their relationship to land and culture.
From the Abstract,
As the first group in a long trajectory of migrant building workers in France, the Limousin migrant masons in nineteenth-century Paris offer insight into how and why migrant groups remain financially and emotionally attached to their respective sending regions. In the case of Limousin migrant masons, migration to Paris did not provoke a rupture with Limousin rural society. Although the migrant spent the majority of his adult life working and living in Paris, he remained an ouvrier-paysanrooted to a rural existence. Instead of abandoning the soil, the migrant worked as a mason in Paris in order to amass savings to reinvest in the land and enlarge his diminutive land holding. Rather than quickly assimilating into an urban melting pot, therefore, the Limousin migrant remained ‘a peasant in Paris’.