During the Risorgimento, numerous Italian intellectuals, patriots, and political activists spent parts of their lives in prison and built around this experience an identity based on the concepts of sacrifice and martyrdom. Focusing on the early 1830s, and in particular, on reactions to the Austrian incarceration of the 1831 insurgents, I aim to free political detainees from the shackles of legal and political history and insert them within the context of the questions raised by transnational and humanitarian history. While liberal jurists’ and intellectuals’ perceptions of political crime were being reconfigured over the first decades of the 19th century, political convicts acted as transnational actors of the Italian Risorgimento, with international and popular support, thus challenging the idea that political prisoners emerged as political figures and international actors only in the 20th century.
This was a virtual event held on April 9, 2021. The event is part of the Italian and Mediterranean Colloquium series, sponsored by the European Institute & the Department of Italian.