ZOOM WEBINAR – Bookings will open at a later date.
The Ghetto of Florence has been for more than two centuries the architectural-material baricentre of Florentine Jewry, being established by Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in 1570-71, and being then demolished at the end of the 19th century as part of a major urban renewal plan known as “Risanamento” (lit. “the healing”) aiming to change the physiognomy of the old town and turn it into a modern and fully “Italianised” city. The making of the ghetto in Florence represented a major diversion from the “old” Medici’s tolerant standing on the Jewish minority, the implementation of canon laws aiming to mark a physical, material border between the two communities. While officially conceived to marginalise the Jews, the ghetto in fact served as a geographical barycentre, segregating but also protecting its inhabitants, offering them a “physical/material” dimension and point of reference that in the pre-ghetto time the Jews of Tuscany, like those of Italy and of the Diaspora on the whole, had been aprioristically and sistematically denied.
Piergabriele Mancuso received his doctoral degree in Jewish Studies from University College London, 2009. He also studied in Oxford (Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies) as a Phd student fellow (2004) and at the Warburg Institute, London (Sophie Fellowship Programme, 2006). He has been Senior Lecturer on History of Music and Venetian History at Boston University Study Abroad and was visiting lecturer at University of Kentucky (College of Fine Arts), “Cà Foscari” University, Venice (Department of Oriental Languages), at Università dell’Insubria in Como, and University of Padua. In 2001 he graduated in music (viola) and for many years he has been a professional contemporary music performer. His research interests include Jewish music and ethnomusicology, Venetian history (that he taught for almost 20 years to American students!) and history of the Jews in Medici Florence. In June 2013 he was appointed director of the Eugene Grant Jewish History Program at the Medici Archive Project. In 2018 he launched the Ghetto Mapping Project, a major research program aiming to reconstruct, on the basis of archival documents, the architectural, demographic and nonetheless artistic-cultural features of the ghetto of Florence. His book on the making of the Florentine ghetto – Before the Ghetto – Cosimo I de’ Medici, the Granduchy and the Jews – 1569-1570, will soon be published by Brepols.
Photo credit: Telemaco Signori, a Florentine painter (1835-1910) showing a portion of the ghetto a few years before its demolition. The work is now at the Gallery of Modern Art in Rome.