Guy Geltner Professor of Medieval History Monash University "Rural Policing in Trecento Piedmont: A Forgotten Urban Gaze and Its Obstruction"
23 April 2020
Hinterlands' role in the growth of cities emerges from a unique metabolic perspective and with rare lucidity thanks to the records of Piedmontese field wardens (campari) from the late thirteenth to the fifteenth century. Throughout the region enclosed by Italy's Alpine ridges, these officials policed numerous sites and species in the service of cities' biological as well as political agendas, as urban dwellers came to see the surrounding countryside, not only as a security belt providing military defense, but also as a rich source of caloric and hydraulic energy and a sink for waste. Reconstructing campari's remits, norms and actions thus recovers a neglected urban gaze grounded in the era's environmental thinking. Yet the process also sheds light on the tactics that rustics devised to obstruct it, for instance through self-help, concealment and strategic embellishment of reported violations. Campari records thus challenge the centrality of landed aristocracies in the area's and era's political historiography, while simultaneously inviting social and urban historians to look beyond the city walls.
Professor Geltner is the author of Roads to Health: Infrastructure and Urban Wellbeing in Later Medieval Italy (University of Pennsylvania Press 2019), Flogging Others: Corporal Punishment and Cultural Identity from Antiquity to the Present (Amsterdam University Press, 2014), The Making of Medieval Antifraternalism: Polemic, Violence, Deviance and Remembrance (Oxford University Press 2012), The Medieval Prison: A Social History (Princeton University Press 2008, Italian ed. 2012), and numerous articles in English and in French on the mendicant orders, public health, crime, and punishment. He takes up the position of Professor of Medieval and Renaissance History at Monash University on 1st March 2020.
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