Writing History in the Time of COVID-19: Historian Timothy LeCain on the Third Warning, Microscopic Records and Societal Change, A Conversation with Stefan Hanß

By |2020-05-25T18:20:58+00:00May 25th, 2020|PIMo Conversations|

Stefan Hanß: COVID-19  changes people’s lives, fears, hopes, and behaviours across the globe right now. In his recent Cambridge University Press monograph The Matter of History: How Things Create the Past, Professor Timothy James LeCain (Montana State University) writes about the “fellow travelers” that “make us human”: “an average human body has about three times more bacterial cells than human ones.” You call this an ever-evolving relationship “that can be both wonderfully creative and horrifically destructive.” How do you experience the coronavirus pandemic these days? Timothy James LeCain: Honestly, I’ve been feeling rather useless these days. While skilled doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are leading the fight against a pandemic, a historian like myself doesn’t seem to have much to offer. Still, if there’s one thing history is good for, it’s spotting bigger patterns in the chaos—and maybe even extracting some useful silver lining lessons from dark clouds. As an environmental historian, it seems to me that the current COVID-19 crises should be recognized as just the latest and loudest of three major warning alarms that first began going [...]

Claudia Stella Valeria Geremia, The Spanish Inquisition in the Canary Islands and Objects of Witchcraft (15th-18th centuries)

By |2020-05-25T17:54:24+00:00May 25th, 2020|Reflections|

This research aims to study traditional practices of witchcraft and the circulation of witchcraft objects by examining the trial records of the Spanish Inquisition in the Canary Islands from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. The purpose is to focus on the cultural melting pot of the Canaries, where the so-called magic ritual practices of enslaved African people, coming from Maghreb and West Africa, merged with those of the indigenous people, also known as the Guanches, and the conversos. My research explores how people accused of being witches and wizards reused, replaced, and reconfigured the use of daily objects to perform magic rituals. Ordinary objects, such as scissors, mirrors, stones, and bags, became tools of magic in the hands of a witch. Inquisitors were often astonished when they found these items in the houses of people accused of being a witch. My hypothesis is that when the witch uses and puts into motion such objects, power and authority is conferred upon her. In other words, it is the relationship between the woman and how she uses the objects that makes [...]

Chiara Cecalupo, Movement of Ideas: Giovanni Francesco Abela of Malta and his collection under European, Italian and Roman influence

By |2020-05-25T16:31:01+00:00May 25th, 2020|Reflections|

From 1550, Ulisse Aldrovandi, one of the most important scholars of Bologna, began to collect the objects that would be the founding nucleus of his museum, in particular dried fish and natural objects. The growth of his collection went hand in hand with his scientific and teaching experiences (when he began to teach botany and mineralogy, the section of the herbarium took shape) and with his growing contacts with many scholars in Europe. This allowed him to receive substantial donations of objects, but also to become a reference point for every early-Baroque private collectors of antiquities and curiosities. His museum was hosted in his house in Via del Vivaro in Bologna, where the objects were arranged in four rooms contiguous to the library, in which were kept books, manuscripts and drawings. The collection was a visual appendix to the library, and proved extremely varied, in order to give an effect of simultaneous evocation of natural heritage (naturalia) and the intelligence of men (artificialia) through the centuries. There was a very wide typological, diachronic and geographical discrepancy and, following the typically [...]

Chiara M. Mauro, Vives Escudero and the rising interest in Phoenicio-Punic archaeology in Spain

By |2020-05-25T17:52:18+00:00May 25th, 2020|Reflections|

Vives Escudero and the rising interest in Phoenicio-Punic archaeology in Spain   Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the rising interest in Phoenicio-Punic antiquities fostered an intense movement of ideas amongst different scholars. Such a flow aimed at developing a framework for studying the Phoenicio-Punic culture, poorly known until that time. Although some Phoenicio-Punic items were already known in the 18th century, when they were forming part of European nobles’ and bourgeois’ private collections, it was not until the 19th century that a real interest in Phoenicio-Punic culture eventually developed. From the second half of the 19th century onwards, Phoenicio-Punic objects began, in fact, to be studied not only for their artistic value but mostly in light of the importance they had in relation to Phoenician presence along the Mediterranean shore. In Spain, amongst the main actors involved in this changing cultural scenario, there was certainly Antonio Vives, one of the most controversial figures in Spanish historiography (Fig. 1). Fig. 1: Antonio Vives y Escudero (1859-1925). The date of origin of [...]

Podcast 4: ‘Thucydides and the Plague of Athens,’ Dr Spyridon Rangos, A PIMo-CROMOHS Contagion Podcast

By |2020-05-25T15:20:57+00:00May 25th, 2020|PIMo-CROMOHS Contagion Podcast|

In 431 B.C. a war exploded in Greece between the two major political, economic and military powers of the time, Athens and Sparta, and their allies. Generally known as the Peloponnesian War, this great war spanned an entire period of 27 years and led to the total defeat of Athens (404 B.C.). In the summer of 430 B.C., a deadly epidemic broke out in Athens. The first phase of the disease lasted two whole years. In 427 B.C. the epidemic struck back in a somewhat weakened form for about a year. The Athenians lost 5,450 heavy-armed warriors, 300 equestrians of noble birth, a high number of auxiliary soldiers and a still higher of civilians (citizens, resident aliens and slaves). It is estimated that one quarter to almost one third of the entire population passed away (c. 60,000-80,000 people). Our main evidence for the plague of Athens is the work of Thucydides, an Athenian historian and general. For him, it was the greatest epidemic recorded in history. His eye-witness account of the physical symptoms, the psychological impact and the ethical consequences [...]

PIMo Update

By |2020-05-15T11:43:19+00:00May 15th, 2020|Newsletters|

  PIMo in the Time of Corona Dear Colleagues, Hope you and yours are all well in these challenging times. The PIMo Core Group would like to offer you a brief update as to the continued work of our project, much of it in direct response to the ongoing health crisis, and to flag up our future plans for the coming months and years. As ever, we are looking for network members and collaborators to contribute to the ongoing work of the project, so please do not hesitate to get in contact if you have any ideas for future events and/or if you would like to contribute to our Contagion podcast series or offer a Reflection for publication on our website. All the best and stay safe, Dónal Hassett PIMo Science Communication Officer Recent PIMo Activities The port of Marseille during the plague in 1720. Coloured etching after M. Serre. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Although network members have been grappling with the challenges of adapting to methods of working and living in the midst of [...]

PIMo Second Annual Conference CfP, Paper: Material and Semiotic Mobility, University of Granada, January 28-29, 2020

By |2020-05-11T09:14:13+00:00May 11th, 2020|Calls for papers|

PIMO SECOND ANNUAL CONFERENCE UNIVERSITY OF GRANADA, JANUARY 28-29 2021 CALL FOR PAPERS PAPER: MATERIAL AND SEMIOTIC MOBILITY   Hartmann Schopper, De omnibus illiberalibus sive mechanicis artibus. Francofurti ad Moenum, 1574, fol. XIr. (Biblioteca Riccardiana Stamp. 14677, with permission) The Paper in Motion Work Group is part of the COST Action CA18140 PIMo  (http://www.peopleinmotion-costaction.org/ ) and seeks to look into paper as a medium for the codification and exchange of information, ideas, emotions and value. Our forthcoming conference in Granada (January 28-29, 2021) will focus upon the material and semiotic mobility of paper: its nature, the conditions for its production, distribution and use, alongside its symbolic dimension. We intend to establish a series of methodological foundations for an approach to paper as a material vehicle for the construction and communication of culture(s) in all their heterogeneous dimensions and as a trope for the many different sorts of activities that relied on this medium as their material repository and facilitator. We will also explore how this materiality contributed, alongside new technologies like print, to the development of communities and communication networks [...]

José María Pérez Fernández, Turcimanarie e carte d’ogni sorte: Translation, Trade, and Paper in Sixteenth Century Venice

By |2020-05-15T07:59:47+00:00May 11th, 2020|Reflections|

The heading of Riccardiana MS 2523 proclaims its nature as a record of prices and tariffs for merchants and goods trading with Damasco and the rest of Siria. This manuscript was one of the items on display in a recent exhibition organized by our PIMo COST Action at the Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence (“Encounters at Sea: People, Paper, and Objects in Motion at the Riccardiana Library”). Dated on November 25th 1534, the tariffa was put together under the supervision of patricians who belonged to some of the most prominent Venetian families.   Tarriffa | di tutto quello si deue | mettere a conto alli ma[rca]| danti, et marcantie, si[a] | in Damasco, come in tutta | la Soria R[i]formata p[er] | il Clmo M. Piero Molino, | cons.  Insieme con li Magci  | M. Antonio Grimani fu |del magco. ms. Nico. Ms. Nico| Venier fu del mco.Ms. Ago≈|stino, et ms Vicenzo Mo≈|resini del Magco. M. Barbon | deputati, & eletti per | Conseglio, come per parte | presa appar sotto li.25.| di Nouembre.|M D XXX IIII   One of them [...]

Podcast 3: ‘Disposing of corpses during World War I,’ Dr Romain Fathi, A PIMo-CROMOHS Contagion Podcast

By |2020-05-12T08:45:06+00:00May 1st, 2020|PIMo-CROMOHS Contagion Podcast|

Belligerents that took part in the First World War could not have anticipated the lethality of the conflict. Within a few weeks of the war’s outbreak, armies were overwhelmed with corpses. Their existing policies and logistics to dispose of dead bodies were insufficient. As corpses piled up, they became a real epidemiological threat. Armies were relatively mobile, and it was feared that contagion from corpses to soldiers could also spread to civilian populations. When corpses putrefy, bacteria multiply and corpses become agents for the propagation of pathogens, particularly if the bodies were infected with typhoid, cholera or dysentery prior to their death. As a result of the threat posed by unprecedented number of corpses, First World War armies set up what I refer to as ‘body disposal policies and practices’. Those were created and trialled to dispose of corpses as efficiently and safely as possible through mass graves and cremation for instance, mobilising many soldiers, gravediggers and complex logistics. The German Army on the Western Front, 1914 - 1918 (HU 83788) German and British dead being buried by British [...]