I recently contributed as guest historian to a documentary on the 1968 Belice Valley earthquake, one of the two earthquakes I investigated in my book Fault Lines. The documentary was produced by RAI Storia, the history channel of RAI, the Italian public TV, written by Matteo Berdini and Fabrizio Marini, and directed by Matteo Berdini. After airing on TV on January 12, 2018, the documentary has been released online and can be viewed on the RAI streaming website at this link (registration is compulsory but free).
The journal Environment & History has just published my first peer-reviewed article about the history of the Po watershed. Titled “Charting the Flow: Water Science and State Hydrography in the Po Watershed, 1872-1917”, it follows the complex establishment of a hydrographic service for the largest watershed of the country from the disastrous 1872 floods to the First World War. It touches upon issues such as quantification and measurement of water resources, the role of natural systems in environmental knowledge production, the nexuses between water knowledge and engineering, and the role of environmental knowledge in State-building.
Here is a link to the published version of the article: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/whp/eh/2017/00000023/00000001/art00005
Do not hesitate to email me for a copy!
I have finally published a pilote version of my hGIS online on a dedicated website, which I presented at the last ASEH meeting in Seattle earlier this month. This website presents some of the data I have produced during the research in the form of interactive maps. The maps are grouped in sections: agriculture, energy, and urbanization. An additional section provides information on sources and credits for this project. Here is the link to the website, and below one of the digital maps you can explore via this website:
A few good things happened in the last few weeks concerning my project “Entangled Flows.”
I was invited to gave a talk on “Charting the Flow: Water Science and State Hydrography in the Po Watershed” at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, on February 11 and 12. The talk was part of the Speakers’ Series ” The Art of Judgement” organized by Wilko von Hardenberg at the Department III of the Institute. It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss my work with great scholars in the history of science and I will incorporate their excellent insights into my project.
I published a short piece on the project as a whole in Italian for the online journal Altronovecento. I lettori italiani potranno farsi un’idea più precisa del progetto attraverso queste brevi note di ricerca. Il testo può essere visionato online sul sito della rivista oppure scaricato qui
Hopefully more good news will follow in the coming months…
On January 21 at 18:00, I will give a talk at the Minisymposia organized by the ZUG – Centre for Environmental History in Vienna, Austria. The talk is titled “Fault Lines: Thinking (and Writing) about Earthquakes and Historical Change” and will present my recently published book Fault Lines. This is the abstract of the talk:
Can earthquakes speak? The idea that “nature” actively participates in historical change is probably the most fundamental tenet of environmental history. Earthquakes seem a clear example of that agency, and especially so in the history of urbanism and the built environment. Yet, several problems confront us when trying to define the way this agency operates. We can hardly blame exclusively the geophysical trigger for the destruction of built environments, ignoring human responsibilities. The transformation that may or may not follow the seismic event, moreover, cannot be easily connected to the earthquake itself, as it may depend on different agendas and processes.
Therefore, to understand if and how earthquakes play a role in urban historical change, one needs to devise specific analytical and narrative strategies. It is indeed necessary to follow the multiple threads that converge into the seismic disaster only to diverge right after it, and to articulate the historical analysis across multiple temporal scales. In particular, it is crucial to fully incorporate into the analysis not only the disaster and the reconstruction, but also the transformations that were going on before, to distinguish long-term continuities from ruptures that can therefore more convincingly be attributed to the effects of the geophysical trigger.
In my book Fault Lines (Berghahn 2015) I have applied these questions and methods to the empirical investigation of two of the most tragic and destructive seismic disasters in the history of modern Italy: the 1908 Messina and the 1968 Belice Valley (Sicily) earthquakes. In both cases, two brand new environments rose from the ruins of the earthquakes. By looking at the history of these two places on the longer term, we can recognize how much of their transformation was prepared before the earthquakes, and was part of larger urbanization processes in modern Italy. From this perspective, however, we can also see how much of it was the result of the multiple and sometimes counterintuitive interaction of geophysical forces with material structures and human expectations and actions, thus giving voice to the earthquake in more-than-human histories of urban change.
As part of the Po Valley project, I have been working for a while on the hybrid process of knowledge production about water. A forthcoming paper of mine on water science and state hydrography in the Po River basin is now available online through the advance access option of the journal Environment and History and via my academia.edu page. I am particularly happy about this article, because it is the first peer-reviewed output of this project. It is also my first incursion in the history of science (and technology) and I will have the chance to present it at the Max-Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin this coming winter. One more reason to be excited about it!
My book Fault Lines is finally out! The book has been published by Berghahn Books (Oxford and New York) at the end of May. It is part of the ESEH/RCC series “The Environment in History: International Perspectives” and has been generously supported by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. On July 2, during the last ESEH meeting in Versailles, we organized a book launch at the Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelynes, with the presence of three of the four series editors (David Moon, Christof Mauch and Helmut Trischler) and of course myself. It has been a nice moment, especially because many of the people who, in a way or another, have helped make this book possible were present. Here you can find more information about the book contents and here you can download a copy of the introduction. If you are interested in buying a copy, the publisher offers a special 50% discount rate valid only until August 15, 2015 through this link.