Pansini, Valeria


Université Rennes II, France



Max Weber alumnus

Department of History and Civilization

Cohort(s): 2006/2007

Ph.D. Institution

École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France


At the University of Genoa, Italy, I studied history under the supervision of professor Edoardo Grendi. My first dissertation dealt with  a group of cartographic engineers, active in South Piedmont at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and their production of maps, painting, and statistical inquiries. This work led to my Ph.D., L'oeil du topographe et la science de la guerre. Travail scientifique et perception militaire, 1760-1820, directed by Jacques Revel at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and defended in November 2002.

The activity of military topographers is still at the centre of this research: I reconstituted the practices of the scientific work of military topographers, especially in the French Army, and the global vision of war, including the theory of battle and of historical events, which are at stake in this activity. Special attention was given to the changing ways of training the French Army engineers after the end of the Old Regime, to the concepts of « talent » and « merit » and their application as criteria for the evaluation and organization of military activities and education.

After the Ph.D., my investigation has been following up the different directions suggested by my research: one deals with spatial history and the history of cartography, and the history of human sciences. Recently, as the David Woodward Memorial Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I was able to participate in the « History of Cartography » project.

I am still working on the questions of meritocracy, and on the new forms of selection in scientific work during the Napoleonic period. My principal research, still at its beginnings, deals with the question of the battle in historiography: I am concentrating on Napoleonic battles and their representations, to identify the processes, and the reasons for the concealment of violence and horror.
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