Associate Professor Karen Barzman presented a paper, titled “Being in Border Towns: Views from Venetian Dalmatia,” at the 62nd annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in Boston last week:
This paper contributes to a spatial history of fortress towns at the limits of Christian rule, with Venetian Dalmatia providing case studies. Beginning with everyday practices, including the unregulated (the sale of “trafficked” goods within the compound; the unauthorized admission of subjects of the neighboring “infidel” state), the focus then shifts to the radical upheaval in social life and spatial practice during times of war. Archival sources include the “documentary” instruments of technocrats governing the province and accounts from survivors of border conflict. Visual material includes prints of enemy troops in the surrounding countryside and the border skirmish as event, which circulated “information” in metropolitan centers about towns at the putative edge. This paper, then, sets “being in borderlands” against the increasingly abstract political geographies in which border towns were implicated, emphasizing the local in spatial practice and the unofficial networks of interdependence disrupting the state’s administrative model of center-periphery.