Learning from the sea: migration and maritime archives, Iain Chambers

By |2021-03-01T21:01:54+00:00February 24th, 2021|PIMo Conversations|

The sea is an anarchic passage; it evades any borders, it cancels out any trace of appropriation, it contests the arché of order and subverts the nómos on land. For this reason, the sea also preserves the memory of another clandestinity, that of oppositions, resistances, struggles. Not the clandestinity of a stigma, but rather that of a decision (Di Cesare 2020, 125).   Perhaps this affirmation by the Italian philosopher Donatella Di Cesare is too neat. We know that even the waters of the oceans, seas and their depths are being appropriated and increasingly resourced. Nevertheless, it serves to mark a certain limit in our reasoning and political calculus. At sea something always exceeds and flees the semantics secured on land, in the territories, buildings, monuments and laws. Thinking of the Mediterranean, Fernand Braudel (1995) famously proposed considerations of the deep rhythms of time, more recently Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell (2000) have encouraged us to confront the corruptive complications of multiple ecologies. The Mediterranean does not settle easily in predestined critical or cultural location. In immediate terms, contemporary European [...]

An Interview with Giancarlo Casale, Rosita D’Amora

By |2021-02-24T09:03:26+00:00February 15th, 2021|PIMo Conversations|

An Interview with Giancarlo Casale, Rosita D’Amora Salento University, Lecce   Giancarlo Casale is Chair of Early Modern Mediterranean History at the European University Institute in Florence, as well as a permanent member of the history faculty at the University of Minnesota. His new book, Prisoner of the Infidels: The Memoir of an Ottoman Muslim in Seventeenth-Century Europe will be released in summer 2021 from the University of California Press. Casale is also the author of award-winning Ottoman Age of Exploration (Oxford, 2011), and since 2010 has served as executive editor of the Journal of Early Modern History.   When we both started studying Ottoman history, this was not the most obvious choice of subject, especially for someone without a personal connection to the region. How did you get interested in Ottoman history and what have been the encounters, influences, personal choices and also fortuitous events that have shaped your intellectual and personal itinerary? Being an Ottoman historian, was it your ‘kismet’? Complete kismet. Retrospective kismet, if there is such a thing. The truth is that I had no background [...]

Kader Attia’s ‘La Mer Morte’

By |2020-10-02T13:21:24+00:00October 2nd, 2020|PIMo Conversations|

Kader Attia was born in 1970 to Algerian parents in a suburb north of Paris. Now working in Berlin and Paris, he draws on the experience of living in two cultures as the basis for his artistic practice. Attia is not only an artist but also an activist. Until recently, he ran a discourse and exchange platform in Paris, in which people from a wide range of cultures and social backgrounds participated. Attia has been concerned with Europe’s colonial past and its after-effects for many years. The interplay between modern architecture and the history of colonialism is strikingly symbolized by the large sculpture ‘Indépendance Tchao’ (2014), which references the now-abandoned 1960s ‘Hôtel de l’Indépendance’ in Dakar. It is made out of old metal filing boxes used by the French colonial police in Algeria during the war of independence to collate information on the rebels. In his new video installation ‘The Object’s Interlacing’ (2020), which Attia has created specially for the Kunsthaus Zürich, he addresses the much-debated topical issue of ‘restitution’ of non-Western, especially African artefacts. The work is an attempt [...]

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 [...]

Paper in Motion: Methods and Case Studies for an Interdisciplinary Approach (November 15, University of Florence)

By |2021-03-01T18:38:32+00:00October 16th, 2019|PIMo Conversations|

This seminar intends to use a series of case studies to exemplify the role of paper as (1) material medium for communication and consequently for the establishment of institutions, communities and the emotional ties that generated them, and (2) as a trope that denotes the nature and the function of the information, emotions and values it is used to record and convey. As the case studies will suggest, the different uses and functions of paper determined strategies and methods employed in the administration of the movement of people, ideas, and goods, and in the creation of complex networks (political, economic, religious, and intellectual) across the Mediterranean and beyond. There will be a particular focus upon the circulation of texts and documents involved in the articulation of discursive varieties for the expression of subjective emotional identities and for the establishment of the norms that regulated their public and social dimensions.   Prof José María Perez Fernandez's  original research started with an interdisciplinary approach to comparative literature, which then led to an interest in the relations between early modern literature and political [...]

Travelling men, travelling books. Hidden lives in the papers of an Orientalist librarian in Vienna (1608–1636) (November 15th, University of Florence)

By |2021-03-01T18:39:50+00:00October 16th, 2019|PIMo Conversations|

We only see movements that are documented: we talk about "looking at movements” more than the movements themselves. How were these movements perceived, and how was the displacement narrated? Some information on these questions might be found in an unexpected source. Letters written by erudite scholars are a favoured source in the history of scholarship. But they can also reveal other presences, and the movements of travellers, exiles and refugees. The letters of Sebastian Tengnagel, imperial librarian in Vienna and a scholar of Arabic, Turkish and Persian, are one such case. Nowadays he is a ghostly figure, but in his day he was one of the leading figures of the “Republic of Arabic Letters”. Although he – as a librarian - is a sedentary figure par excellence, his letters are full of movement: of ideas, of books, and of people. In this seminar I will focus on the movement of people. Tengnagel’s correspondents range from giants of philology like Casaubon and Gruter to unknown, mist-shrouded figures from a shifting ecosystem: missionaries, adventurers, interpreters, slaves and prisoners of war, from the [...]