The thematic horizon of this article is the colonial expansion of Western powers in China in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. The focus is on the legal strategies deployed by Germany when it occupied the bay of Jiaozhou and obtained a settlement in Tianjin. This episode illuminates Western strategies of colonial governance and the role played by legal discourse in the process of production of a new social space. At the same time, taking a closer look to the history of international law and to the relationship between law and violence, this article aims to reveal the darker (and hidden) side of modern international law. The «strange» legal tools that allow Germany to transform Jiaozhou in a colony and inaugurate a settlement in Tianjin are an extraordinary point of observation for reading the theoretical discussions of European jurists on the exceptional nature of non-Western spaces and their populations and analyzing the changes undergone by the concept of sovereignty beyond Western borders.
Keywords: International Law; German Colonialism; Tianjin; Jiaozhou.
This article examines the long theological and homiletic tradition that challenged the idea of certainty of death, and hypothesized intermediate spaces and times for the soul and for the body. Such intermediate spaces and times presupposed a degree of uncertainty concerning bodily death and the place of the soul separated from the body. These ideas and beliefs about the survival of the dead body after death had at least partially resisted the effort of Christianization, despite the «birth of Purgatory». Among those non-human beings who were believed to be restless, disturbing, dangerous, the most aggressive were those who had died prematurely and violently, such as suicides, warriors fallen in battle, or children who had died without baptism. Ghosts and vampires populated these debates until the mid-eighteenth century, when discussions on the uncertainty of death and on the difficult definition of its status moved from the realm of theological hypotheses and popular beliefs to that of scientific inquiry.
Keywords: Death; Limbo; Baptism; Ghosts.
Per una storia degli alberi e del bosco
The success of numerous recent publications regarding trees and woodlands reflects contemporary concerns and shared priorities. In this «mass debate», where different disciplines and ideologies meet, Italian historical research is marginal, despite a rich tradition of scholarship on the history of the environment, agriculture, and human geography. By examining three major studies on trees and woodlands, written by Mauro Agnoletti, HansJörg Küster and Oliver Rackham, this piece suggests a reflection on potential research approaches to the «history of trees», based on the historical method as a structural principle rather than simply as a style of writing. Such research calls for a multidisciplinary approach combining the fields of historical ecology and environmental history; a renewed «history of trees» should start from systematic, in-depth archival work. Only in this way can historians make a constructive, critical contribution to the ongoing debate, which, by focusing on the theme of trees and woodlands, aims to influence, guide, and justify choices concerning the relationship between man and nature.
Keywords: Trees; Woodlands; Historiography; Environmental History.
Metamorfosi occidentali. La deindustrializzazione della città contemporanea
This article questions the category of the «de-industrializing city» as a useful concept for understanding urbanization in the Western world, from the last decades of the twentieth century to the present. It considers recent works on the de-industrialization of American, British and German cities to reflect on the importance of this topic for historical studies and reformulate interpretations of the «urban crisis» of the 1960’s and 70’s and its long-lasting consequences. New research perspectives emerge from the analysis of public policies and the transformation of landscapes, which are connected to factory dislocation, working-class displacement, and the evolving conceptualisation of the «inner city». A re-evaluation of economic approaches stands out as a promising strategy to better contextualise urban transformations within the «cumulative structural break» that characterised Western industrialised countries at the end of the twentieth century.
Keywords: De-industrialization; Urbanization 1950-90; Inner cities; Post-industrial landscape.