julho, 2024

19jul10:30 am12:30 pmPerpetuating private propertyResearch seminar10:30 am - 12:30 pm National Library of Portugal, Campo Grande, 83 - 1749-081 LisbonTipologia do Evento:Seminar

Illustrative banner for the seminar “Perpetuating private property: machines and hydraulics at the time of the Enlightenment”. With Lavinia Maddaluno, from Università Ca’ Foscari , IHC Visting Scholar 2024. The banner includes a photo of Lavinia Maddaluno.

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Detalhes do Evento

Research seminar with IHC’s 2024 Visiting Scholar Lavinia Maddaluno, on a case of hydraulic intervention in rural areas of northern Italy.


Perpetuating private property:
machines and hydraulics at the time of the Enlightenment


This paper considers a case of hydraulic intervention in some rural areas of the Duchy of Milan under Joseph II (1780s). It explores how practical and philosophical considerations shaped improvement projects, and how these intersected with the consolidation of private property, and an increase in productivity. More specifically, the paper reconstructs the not well-known case of the hydraulic pump made by the idraulico (expert in hydraulics) Carlo Castelli to reclaim lands in the northern-eastern areas of Lake Como. However, this paper is not only about a local project of land reclamation, rather also dealing with the function of material artefacts in revealing contemporary attitudes towards technology, natural and social order. How did institutions and naturalists conceive technical intervention on nature? Which were the political economic connotations of the practice of emulation of techniques? And how did institutions and experts in hydraulics philosophically address technical failure and errors at the time of the Enlightenment? Despite receiving governmental investments and support to build his machine, Castelli failed at his project of land-reclamation. The paper will thus also use this case study to reconsider the public and social role of technology itself, as well as of emulation at the time of enlightened reforms.


Comments by Ricardo Noronha and José Miguel Ferreira (IHC — NOVA FCSH / IN2PAST).


About IHC’s 2024 Visiting Scholar:
Lavinia Maddaluno is Assistant Professor in early modern history at the Department of Humanities at Ca’ Foscari, Venice, working on David Gentilcore’s ERC project The Water Cultures of Italy 1500-1900. She is a historian of science interested in exploring the nexus between humans, nature and economy in early modern Europe. Lavinia has just completed her first monograph Science and political Economy in Enlightenment Milan (1760-1805), forthcoming with the Voltaire Foundation in autumn 2024. She is currently editing a book on rice in the Mediterranean with Rachele Scuro and a special issue on Water Knowledge with Giacomo Savani and Davide Martino. Lavinia has held multiple fellowships since the end of her PhD (Cambridge UK, 2018), from a Rome Fellowship at the British School at Rome, to a Max Weber Fellowship at the EUI and a joint Warburg/I Tatti Fellowship in the History of Science. More recently, she has been Fellow at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme and the Fondazione Einaudi, working on a new project on rice-related knowledge networks between France and Italy in the Enlightenment.


The seminar requires prior registration by 17 July via miguelcarmo@fcsh.unl.pt.
Registrants will receive a chapter from the author’s book (to be published after the summer) on which the seminar discussion will focus. For a presentation of the book, see this link.



Cartaz do seminário “Perpetuating private property: machines and hydraulics at the time of the Enlightenment”. 19 de Julho de 2024, às 10 horas e 30 minutos, na Sala de Seminários da Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal. Com Lavinia Maddaluno, da Università Ca’ Foscari , IHC Visting Scholar 2024. O cartaz inclui uma fotografia da Lavinia Maddaluno.



(Sexta-feira) 10:30 am - 12:30 pm


National Library of Portugal

Campo Grande, 83 - 1749-081 Lisbon


Institute of Contemporary History — NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanitiescomunicacao.ihc@fcsh.unl.pt Avenida de Berna, 26C - 1069-061 Lisbon