Posted on: April 25th 2024

LAE Historians Trip

A group of Year 12 historians recently travelled to Birkbeck, University of London, for a captivating lecture delivered by Dr. Joseph Viscomi, a renowned expert on Italian unification and 19th-century Mediterranean history. The lecture focused on the Italian Risorgimento, a 19th-century movement that aimed to unify the fragmented Italian Peninsula a region of numerous independent states, some under foreign rule  into a single nation state. Dr. Viscomi challenged the romanticised view of the Risorgimento, exploring the complexities of unification and highlighting that it wasn't a seamless or universally positive experience.

Birbeck 2Year 12 student Sadia remarked on Dr. Viscomi's contrasting view of the 'real' unification versus the prevailing 'myth': "I enjoyed the different perspective the professor provided... where unification was seen as something that would bring major change, but in reality this did not occur. In fact, the free trade and other economic reforms damaged Southern Italy and its citizens."

Nellija, another Y12 student, found another aspect of the lecture intriguing: "Something I found particularly interesting in the lecture was learning about Garibaldi's time in South America and how the guerrilla tactics he learnt there influenced the battles he led during the Risorgimento!"

The trip wasn't confined solely to the lecture. Year 12 historians also embarked on a tour of Bloomsbury, a central London district known for its concentration of academic institutions. This tour provided them with valuable insights into key academic centres like Birkbeck, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and the Senate House, which houses the prestigious Institute for Historical Research.

This enriching day out undoubtedly served to deepen our Year 12 historians' understanding of the Italian Risorgimento. Dr. Viscomi's expert lecture, coupled with the exploration of London's academic heartland, equips students with a more nuanced perspective on this era of Italian unification.