Home > Catalogue > MDCCC 1800 > 1 | 2012 > Spatial Identities in the Nineteenth Century

Spatial Identities in the Nineteenth Century

Venice as a Case Study

Elsa Damien    -    



We have drawn our attention to the historiographies of Venice written in that city in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and have offered to read Venice as a synecdoche for Italy. It was Venice’s very uniqueness and specificity that made it possible to exploit it as a case study: it was revealing to consider the most distinctive as the most typical. Our objective was to explore the relationship between different sorts of spatial identity as reflected in historical texts; in particular, we wanted to show that the local did not necessarily stand in opposition to the national during a period of national unification and consolidation. The various phases we have identified within Venetian historiography show how the field of historical studies was used for debates and constructions of spatial identities. In reality, the main narrative changed little, but the interpretations drawn from it followed very diverse paths, and the key concepts used proved highly polysemic and flexible, allowing change within an apparent continuum. Many tropes dear to the Risorgimento canon were hardly found in Venetian historiography, which presented a very singular model: but this singularity was considered as a strength at the service of «Italianness» and gave a powerful example of what Italians were able to do.

July 25, 2012
Copyright: © 2012 Elsa Damien. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.