To attend in Turin: "Italy and the Suez Canal", 23-24 May 2019

Francesca Biancani's picture

The International Conference "Italy and the Suez Canal, a Global History from the mid-19th Century to the Present" will be held in Turin at the University of Turin (Campus Luigi Einaudi, Sala lauree rossa, Lungo Dora Siena 100/A) and the Accademia delle Scienze (Sala dei Mappamondi, via Accademia delle Scienze 6) on May 23 and 24 2019.

Conference rationale: As it approaches its 150th anniversary, and with a recent expansion doubling its capacity, the Suez Canal is receiving renewed media and historiographical interest. Innovative perspectives from global, imperial and maritime history and from wide-ranging studies on the Mediterranean and the Middle East, have stimulated original reserch on the canal's history. Meanwhile international businees, labor and social history has been shedding new light on the experience of the Compagnie Internationale du Canale Maritime de Suez and its relationship with modern Egypt. These approaches have introduced new actors, topics and periodizations, thus contributing to integrate and revise traditional, if not stereotyped or even mythical, narratives on the Canal. No comprehensive account exists of the long, rich and multifaceted relationship between Italy and the Canal. The italian side of the Canal's history has been the object of fragmentary studies and is usually ingnored by international historiography, despite Italy's fundamental technical, labour, diplomatic and financial contribution to the construction of the Canal and its subsequent development. The conferece aims at overcoming the fragmentariness of the existing scholarship on Italy and the Canal, showcasing innovative research which might improve our undestarding of different moments and episodes of Italian history, of Italy's role and presence in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and of the globalization of the Italian economy as seen from the perspective of the Canal.

Thursday, 23 May

Accademia delle Scienze - Sala dei Mappamondi

9:00 Welcome addresses

9.30: First session - Italian infrastructures and the Suez Canal: Past and Present

Barbara Curli, Università di Torino
Italy and the Suez Canal. Historical and historiographical passages in a global perspective

Marcello Tadini, Università del Piemonte orientale
The new Suez Canal: freight flows, geographical overview and effects on Northern Italy ports

Andrea Giuntini, Università di Modena-Reggio Emilia
Italian infrastructures and the opening of the Suez Canal

11.30: Second session - In the global economy, from the mid-1860s to World War I

Chair: Maria Elisabetta Tonizzi, Università di Genova

Giovanni Cristina, Università di Catania
The Suez Canal and the Italian port cities: infrastructure, rivalries, opportunities within a Nation in the making (1860s-1890s)

Leonardo Scavino, Università di Genova-NavLab
The Suez Canal and the Italian sailing fleet: expectations, problems and alternative routes (1869-1914)

Kevin Tang, University of Oxford
The Suez Canal in making the global periphery. Trade costs and trade flows between the Middle East, Europe and Asia, 1870–1914


14.30: Third session - Imperial strategies in the Mediterranean, from the mid-1860s

to World War II

Chair: Nicola Labanca, Università di Siena

Fabio De Ninno, Università di Siena
The Italian Navy and Suez. From opportunity to obsession (1861-1943)

Giorgio Ennas, European University Institute, Florence
The Italian and Ottoman Red Sea. Inter-imperial modus vivendi in the Red Sea through Italian and Ottoman diplomatic documents (1885-1902)

Steven Morewood, University of Birmingham
Jugular vein of empire: the Suez Canal in British foreign and military policies towards Fascist Italy, 1935-1940

Bahar Gursel, Middle East Technical University of Ankara
“War in Africa”: the depiction of the Italian invasion of Egypt (1940) in Turkish newspapers

16.30: Fourth session - Suez and the Cold war

Chair: Andrea Brazzoduro, University of Oxford

Joseph John Viscomi, Birkbeck College, London
Between Italy and Egypt. Decolonising the Mediterranean, 1946-1961

Massimo De Giuseppe, Università IULM, Milano
Italian catholics and the Suez crisis: between neo-Atlanticism, pacifism and third worldism

Giovanni Costenaro, European University Institute, Florence
From Suez to Cairo. The “Eurafrican Common Market” and the origins of the Pella plan for the Middle East, 1956-1958

Hassan Elbahtimy, King’s College, London
Egypt and the origins of the 1967 Arab-Israel war

Gaetano La Nave, Università di Napoli “L’Orientale”
The closure of the Suez Canal (1967-1975). Global effects and geopolitical consequences in the Italian case


Interludio Verdiano

Paolo Gallarati, Accademia delle Scienze, Torino
Ascoltando Aida: spazio e destino nell’Egitto di Verdi


ingresso da Via Accademia delle Scienze 6


Friday, 24 May
Campus Luigi Einaudi | Sala lauree rossa


9.00: Fifth session - Italian cultures and the Canal project

Chair: Lucy Riall, European University Institute, Florence

Andrea Leonardi, Alice Riegler, Università di Trento
Luigi Negrelli (1799–1858): a Tyrolean engineer at the heart of the Suez Canal project

Filippo Gattai Tacchi, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa
“La via che seguire dobbiamo”: Giuseppe Sapeto and his 1865 Operetta Popolare

Giovanni Modaffari, Università di Roma Tor Vergata
The old man, the warrior and the genius: an exchange of glances between Trieste and Suez

Carlo Bovolo, Università del Piemonte orientale
“Iddio si serve mirabilmente dell’uomo per adempire i suoi altissimi fini”: the Suez Canal in the Italian catholic press in the 19th century

11.30: Sixth session - Colonial spaces/Colonial encounters

Chair: Francesca Biancani, Università di Bologna

Luca Castiglioni, Università di Milano
Assab and the Suez Canal: the root of Italian imperialism in the Red Sea

Giampaolo Conte, Università di Roma Tre
Credit, debt and power: Italian policy and ambitions in the heavily-indebted Muslim-Mediterranean countries (1867-1914)

Andreas Guidi, University of Konstanz
War smuggling and the making of a Mediterranean space. Illegal maritime trafficking during the Italo-Ottoman war, 1911-1912


14.30: Seventh session - Work and migration

Chair: Alessandra Venturini, Università di Torino

Lucia Carminati, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
“Io voglio essere libbera, e libbera per sempre”. Migrants’ letters and gender along the Suez Canal as a new frontier for Egyptian, regional, and global mobility, 1850s-1860s

Paola Schellenbaum, Società di studi valdesi
The Suez Canal in conversations through time: Evangelical and Waldensian mobility in the Mediterranean

Olga Verlato, New York University
“Their parents are all sailors and factory workers”. Ambitions and tribulations of Italian schools in late-19thcentury Egypt: the Suez Canal, Alexandria and Zagazig 

Angelos Dalachanis, École française d’Athènes
Ordinary people in extraordinary contexts: Italian and Greek employees of the Suez Canal Company in moments of crisis

Giuseppe Natale, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
“La via del petrolio”. A poetic documentary by Bernardo Bertolucci

17.30: Conclusions 

Frederick Cooper, New York University


ingresso da Lungo Dora Siena 100/A


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