The System of Lazzaretti Reconsidered

The System of Lazzaretti Reconsidered

The Materiality of Quarantine in the Early Modern Mediterranean

Marina Inì

30 May 2023 – 5 PM (CEST)

This lecture focuses on the system of quarantine stations in the early modern Mediterranean. Quarantine and quarantine centres (also called lazzaretti in Italian vernacular) were considered essential to allow the movement of travellers and trading activities from territories and cities potentially infected with the plague; quarantine was considered especially important for communications with the Ottoman regions in which, according to the cultural and medical frameworks of the time, plague was considered endemic. 

During the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, Venice managed a network of different lazzaretti that protected the entirety of its territories in its frequent exchanges with the Levant. From the seventeenth century onwards, other Mediterranean cities started to adopt quarantine centres and different civic Health Offices joined forces with the Venetian Health Board constituting a transnational system of quarantine centres. 

The system collected and shared information on the state of health of the Mediterranean area and it involved the wide adoption of standardised and consistent quarantine practices among the members of the network. My talk analyses the importance of materials in issues of contagion. While analysing the materiality of quarantined goods, the regulations and the architecture of the lazzaretti, this paper highlights the relevance of material culture to early modern medical preventative practices.  

About the Speaker...

Marina Inì is an Assistant Professor in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge.

She is an early modern cultural historian interested in material culture, history of medicine, as well as spatial and urban history of the early modern Mediterranean. Her current research interests focus on diversity, cross-cultural encounters in urban contexts, and funerary practices in Mediterranean port cities of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Her PhD dissertation, entitled The System of Lazzaretti in the Early Modern Mediterranean, analyses the role of quarantine stations in shaping the socio-cultural history of the shared Mediterranean area.


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