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Numbers and Nationhood

Numbers and Nationhood
Writing Statistics in Nineteenth-Century Italy


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Part of Cambridge Studies in Italian History and Culture

  • Date Published: December 2003
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521522601

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About the Authors
  • Numbers and Nationhood, first published in 1996, explores the Italian inflection of a Europe-wide phenomenon in the nineteenth century: the rise of statistics as a mode of representation in society. Silvana Patriarca examines the ideologies which informed the copious statistical literature produced between the 1820s, when statistical publications began to proliferate in the Italian states, and the 1870s, when a unified Italy entered a fully positivistic era. Her innovative study illuminates the relationship between the needs of an emerging nation and the uses to which statistics were put, generating a long-lasting image of Italy which nevertheless accentuated its internal territorial divisions. By examining the power of numerical representations, Numbers and Nationhood provides a fresh reading of the historiography of Risorgimento Italy and of positivism, bringing to the fore issues of science, ideology, and representation.

    • Gives a fresh look at Risorgimento Italy by examining issues of representation and national image
    • Combines sociopolitical history and textual analysis of statistics
    • Stresses the relations between politics and the 'objectifying power' of statistics
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    • Winner of the Marraro Prize of the American Historical Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… an important contribution to the broader task of examining the interplay of culture and politics that shaped the national question during the Risorgimento'. Modern Italy

    ' … fascinating … offers remarkably effective keys for rereading the interplay of science, culture and politics in the formation of bourgeois public opinion in Italy in the age of Unification. … brilliant and fascinating reconstruction of the subtexts of debates to which cultural and intellectual historians of the Risorgimento have previously paid little attention … combines thoughtful new research and concepts to develop an original, coherent and stimulating thesis from which all historians on nineteenth-century Italy will have much to learn'. Journal of Modern Italian Studies

    ' … this important and intelligent book … is a vital contribution to the historiography of Italian nationalism … suggests ways in which the new cultural history and the more traditional social and political history can complement and enrich each other. In this respect, its importance also transcends the boundaries of the Italian peninsula.' Economic History Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2003
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521522601
    • length: 296 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.462kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the history of statistics between state making and objectifications
    2. A science for 'civilized' countries: practitioners, audiences and theories of statistics, 1820s–50s
    3. Statistical description: between epistemology and politics
    4. Making public numbers: official statistics in the pre-unification monarchies
    5. Building the nation's body: 'patriotic statistics' representation of Italy
    6. The identity of the Italians, or the ambiguities of moral statistics
    7. Representing the new nation (1861–71)
    8. A nation of Communes in a Europe of nationalities: the statistical Congress of Florence
    Epilogue: measurable and unmeasurable things.

  • Author

    Silvana Patriarca, Columbia University, New York


    • Winner of the Marraro Prize of the American Historical Association

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