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Seeing the Nation for the Trees: At the Frontier of Italian Nineteenth-Century Modernity

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In this article we analyse the emergence and the transformation of three different socio-natural spaces in a particular historical context - that is, the establishment of a modern state. We explore this issue by researching the relationship between forests and modernisation from Unification in 1861 to the 1890s. Over this period Italy experienced a radical change connected with the state-building process, and forests represented a material place where innovations in social and economic development were tested. Based on three case studies, this article explores how modernity was articulated through urban parks, ironworks, and infrastructures. The three cases speak of both depletion and conservation; they exemplify the patterns through which, in the very making of modernity, Italian society articulated its relationship to nature in an attempt to overcome customary rights and the traditional rural organisation of society. Forests were constructed as socio-ecological spaces reflecting Italy's contested and heterogeneous modernisation process through which political tensions, social conflicts and economic development theories were inscribed on transformed landscapes.
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Keywords: Forest; infrastructures; ironworks; nation-building processes; public domain; urban park

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2018

This article was made available online on January 9, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Seeing the Nation for the Trees: At the Frontier of Italian Nineteenth Century Modernity".

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
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