Davide Martino (Cambridge) will join the Amsterdam Centre for Urban History coming term. During his stay, he will work in Dutch archives and libraries in order to further his understanding of Amsterdam and its relationship to water, especially in terms of land reclamation, drinking water supply, and flood prevention.
Martino's PhD is a study of hydraulic philosophy, that is, of the branch of early modern natural philosophy concerned with water. Both the production of hydraulic knowledge and its practical application happened in context; his thesis focuses on one of these contexts, early modern European cities. Three case-studies - Augsburg, Florence, and Amsterdam - are approached from an interdisciplinary perspective. First, borrowing from environmental history, urban centres are understood as terraqueous sites, where humans interacted with the surrounding environment, and viceversa. Second, the tools of art and cultural history are essential to understand the passion for fountains, hydraulic displays, and 'giochi d'acqua' which seized princely courts and mercantile polities alike. Third, the history of science and technology can explain how hydraulic machinery functioned, and how it developed over time.
Martino will give a paper on the topic of his PhD during the ACUH seminar of 15 April. His appointment at the University of Cambridge is generously funded by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.