Emanuele Lugli

Emanuele Lugli

Hanna Kiel Fellow
The Fabrication of Borders: Tailoring, Triangulation, Territoriality in Italy and Beyond, 1340-1760


Emanuele Lugli (PhD, Institute of Fine Arts/NYU 2009) teaches at the University of York and writes about Italian art, with an emphasis on metrics, scale, exactness and imprecision, speed and inertia, and the ongoing challenges to art history posed by network and complexity theories. He has published a book on the spatial and cultural revolution brought about by the metric system in Napoleonic Italy (Unità di Misura: Breve Storia del Metro in Italia, 2014). He has been a post-doctoral fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut-Max Planck Institut in Florence and visiting professor at the University of Cologne.

Project Summary

This project reveals the overlooked relationship of fashion and cartography in constructing notions of territoriality. While fashion produced both a geography of the body and a sense of place through tailoring, land surveying charted regions and communities by triangulation. Both means stemmed from geometry and, in a way, this research is a comparative study of pattern books and geodetic practices to reflect on early modern ideas concerning statecraft and habitat. More specifically, ‘The Fabrication of Borders’ unfolds along three research streams, each of which critically interprets objects and texts from a distinct period. After exploring the role of fashion in expressing fears of military invasion in the mid 14th century, this project jumps to the late 16th century to reflect upon how the close relationship of tailoring and measurements shaped the future of geodesy. It then leaps again to the early 18th century to discuss how, in turn, a new sense of cartographic precision transformed the capacity of fashion to define a sense of belonging. Each of these three research paths will constitute the backbone for a chapter of a tripartite book that I would like to bring to an advanced stage within the twelve months of the I Tatti fellowship.