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 is joining Columbia University in Fall 2016 as an Assistant Professor of Mediterranean Studies in the Department of Italian. She is currently a visiting fellow at the Institut d’Études Avancées, Paris. She has previously held fellowships and taught at the University of Nicosia (Research Promotion Foundation of Cyprus), New York University (Fulbright), Centre for Advanced Studies Sofia Bulgaria, Queen Mary University of London (British School at Athens grant) and Université Paris-Est Créteil. Her publications include a co-edited volume on "Mediterranean Diasporas: Politics and Ideas in the Long Nineteenth Century" (Bloomsbury 2015) and several articles on expatriate intellectuals and national consciousness in the post-Venetian Adriatic. Her book in progress is titled "Stammering the Nation. Transnational Patriotism in the Mediterranean, 1800-1830" (currently under review by Oxford University Press).