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Inventing Italy. Geography, Risorgimento and national imagination: the international circulation of geographical knowledge in the nineteenth century


  • The information, practices and views in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).


This paper addresses the construction of national unity by Italian geographers in the age of the Risorgimento, analysing this process within the context of the international emergence of national representations, identities and imaginaries which was similarly accompanied by geographers elsewhere during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Based on primary sources, focusing on European circulation of knowledge, and drawing on the study of the cultural and epistemological construction of the geographical objects, this paper contributes to current research on nationalism, identities and national imagination from the standpoint of social, cultural and historical geography. Interrogating how geography constructed objects of cultural identity in Italy, initially through landscape and morphologic analysis, and finally in the geographical invention of the Italian nation, reveals the importance of this discipline for constructing social reality. The study of the role of geography historically in nation-building can shed light both on territorial challenges of the past, and those potentially to come.