Paper short abstract:
The paper explores the 19th century Trieste learned societies. In particular, the midpoint these associations often found themselves in: the increasingly tricky balance between becoming more and more national, on the one hand, and remaining somewhat cosmopolitan or even global, on the other.
Paper long abstract:
From the second half of the 19th century on, the urban milieu and liberal political framework enabled voluntary associations to emerge not only in places like London or Paris but Trieste too. The city of Trieste became in the course of the 19th century the fourth-largest in the Habsburg monarchy and its vital access point to the sea. It was, however, also a city without a university. Learned societies thus represented public spaces making it possible for many well-educated noble and bourgeois men, among them also Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890), to discuss, organize lectures, excursions, read, and even publish their own work.
My research takes into consideration the period until 1918 when none of the Triestine associations was anthropological per se, yet many dwelled on early anthropological questions. Above all, the members of the Adriatic Society of Natural Sciences regularly discussed the progressive development of humans. My presentation aims to put emphasis on the midpoint these associations often found themselves in, namely the increasingly tricky balance between becoming more and more national, on the one hand, and remaining somewhat cosmopolitan or even global, on the other. Put differently, similar to many places across Europe in the second half of the 19th century, Trieste experienced a growth of national sentiments, yet this did not necessarily mean that non-national debates and networks had to disappear. My research examines precisely these tensions between national and non-national (or cosmopolitan) currents affecting the 19th century Triestine learned associations, which by extension also nurtured anthropological thought.
The role of learned societies and associations in the creation and building of European anthropology [History of Anthropology Network]