In 2009, Jan Morris’ Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere illustrated of a certain renouncement to analyze the history of the city in the historical context of its development. ‘An allegory of limbo, in the secular sense of an indefinable hiatus,’ Trieste seems as if it were an object in an offshore history between Central Europe, the Italian Peninsula, and the Balkans, without belonging to any.
However, the literary picture of Trieste is not the one of historians, whom, over the last two decades have been slightly emphasizing the complex economic, social and political history of the city and its territorio. This was particularly characterized by the two first volumes of the Storia economica e sociale di Trieste respectively published in 2001 and 2003. Economic historians have contrasted from each other the local, regional and global dynamics supporting the demographic and economic take-off of the city, and they particularly paid attention to maritime litigation settlement, the development of insurance companies, and mercantile practices in a cross-cultural context. At the social level, trading diaspora historians have provided a better understanding of the process of immigration; they have highlighted the flexible building of national communities and assessed the citizenship issues in an urban society strongly shaped by international mobility and trans-regional exchanges. As for them, Habsburg historians have tried to understand how the development of the free port of Trieste fitted in with the Austrian state-building, reflected the transition of the political economies elaborated in Vienna and how the city was concretely governed, paying a particular attention to the governor Karl von Zinzendorf.
Today, the renewal of the history of Trieste in the 18thcentury is located at the cross-road between the new economic history of early modern free-ports, the history of cross-cultural Mediterranean circulations, and the socio-political history of empires. Over the last two decades, historians have strongly renewed the history of the city and its free port. Because of the large diversity of the materials that have been recently examined the history of Trieste appears kaleidoscopic, and, at some point, we still miss the global picture.
This workshop aims to put into the light the diversity of the materials available, and the necessity of criss-crossing the different Trieste deposits with the National Archives in Vienna or in other depots of former Habsburg capitals, the different consular collections in London, Paris or College Park, and private papers. Taking such valuable materials into account strongly challenges the promethean narrative of a self-made city, and the cosmopolitan one of the allegedly “city of nowhere”.
Focusing on the different and unexplored materials that can contribute to the history of Trieste in the 18thcentury, we invite historians to confront these historiographical trends and to present, develop and disseminate new approaches.
We particularly invite scholars to:
- engage with the methodological issue of the diversity of academic point of views and national backgrounds to build a coherent history of Trieste. How to write a trans-national/trans-imperial history of rising city?
- question the classical chronology of the Trieste’s expansion. Was the creation of the free-port the beginning of the story? How and how much the old municipality participated to this process?
- examine the city’s fabrique and with it to analyze the relations between the citizens of the old municipality and the merchants of the free-port, the Habsburg subjects and the protected foreigners, the wealthy communities and what Johann Kollmann named the Lazzaroni of the portal area.
The workshop will be held in Paris on 28 June 2019.
Scholars wishing to participate should email an 1-page abstract along with a short academic CV to Dr. David Do Paço ([email protected]) and Prof. Christine Lebeau ([email protected]) no later than 22 February 2019.