Konstantina Zanou

Konstantina Zanou
Résidents Labex RFIEA+
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

01/10/2015 - 30/06/2016


Histoire contemporaine

Fonction d’origine

Professeure associée

Institution d’origine

Columbia University (États-Unis)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Global Italians: The Cesnola brothers between the Mediterranean and the Americas in the long 19th century

The project will explore the exciting but scarcely-studied lives of two brothers: Luigi and Alessandro Palma di Cesnola (1832–1904 and 1840–1914). Born into an Italian noble impoverished family in Piedmont, the two brothers lived lives that became global. Luigi took part in the Italian War of Independence, served with the British army in the Crimean War and ended up as a colonel in the American Civil War. He later became United States consul in Cyprus, the antiquities of which he sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, becoming also its first and long-term director (1879-1904). Luigi’s younger brother, Alessandro, fought in the Crimean War and later in the Italian Wars of Independence, but decided to leave army life and become an explorer in South America. After having traveled to the coasts of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Cuba, he ended up in Montevideo, where he was appointed a major in the Uruguayan army and fought in the country’s civil war. Following subsequently his brother to Cyprus, he was transformed into an enthusiastic digger-up of antiquities, which he later sold to the British Museum and the Piedmontese Society of Archaeology. He ended his life in Florence as a major of the Italian army. I intend to study the Cesnola brothers as nineteenth-century ‘global subjects’ and ‘professional manipulators’ of the newly-born national identities and their paraphernalia. Theirs is not simply a story of two lives. It is rather a story about a changing world in two lives.The project aims at producing a book that will cross the boundaries between biography, family stories and global history, offering an account of Southern Europe, the Ottoman Mediterranean and their global interconnections in the long nineteenth century, through an exchange between a micro- and a macro-historical point of view.


Konstantina Zanou (PhD, Università di Pisa and “European Doctorate” from the École Normale Superieure, Paris) is Assistant Professor of Italian, specializing in Mediterranean Studies. She previously held visiting positions at the University of Nicosia Cyprus, New York University, Queen Mary University of London and Université Paris-Est Créteil. She has been a fellow of Fulbright, the Institut d’Études Avancées de Paris, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, the British School at Athens, the Centre for Advanced Studies Sofia Bulgaria, and the Research Promotion Foundation of Cyprus. She is a historian of the long-19th century Mediterranean in a global context. Her research focuses on issues of intellectual and literary history (Enlightenment, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Philhellenism, Liberalism, Nationalism), biography and microhistory, with a special emphasis on Italy (the Risorgimento), the Venetian Republic, the Ottoman world, Greece, the Ionian Islands, and Russia. She is also a student of modern diasporas and of the trajectories and ideas of people on the move.