Giovanni Lista

Core areas of interest

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Intellectual History, History of Political Thought, Early Modern English and Scottish Political History, Classical Republicanism, Political Economy, Enlightenment Studies

Background and current activities

After graduating in Social and Political Sciences in Rome, I very recently completed his PhD dissertation ‘The Political Thought of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1653–‐1716)’ at the department of History and Civilization of the European University Institute in Florence. Before joining the Lichtenberg–‐Kolleg as an early career fellow, I took part in the project European Translators in the long Eighteenth Century as a research associate under the supervision of Prof. Ann Thomson at the EUI.
I am currently working on the book version of my thesis and an article on the proposal for the introduction of domestic servitude in Scotland contained in Fletcher’s writings. Instead of being understood only in terms of an illustrative adaptation of Spartan helotry, the scheme should be framed as an attempt at recovering the local workforce to sustain the effort of a first generation of Scottish economic improvers. In order to elucidate his scheme, I will show how Fletcher struggled to define the status of the servants as free, engaging with the elaborations of the continental natural lawyers Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf. The result is an ambiguous position, very similar to that proposed by John Locke south of the Tweed when dealing with the issue of vagrants for the English Board of Trade. Being an extended version of a section of my thesis, the article will underline the tensions that emerge when trying to combine the republican concept of positive liberty with the liberal concept of negative liberty, and that lie at the core of Fletcher’s thought.

Research Project at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg

Traditionally considered as the last great developer of the civic humanist discourse in Britain, Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun is a pivotal figure in present historiography of political thought, albeit a controversial one. His works introduced classical republicanism in Scotland, constituting some of the main roots of the Enlightenment, but his neo–‐Machiavellian categories of analysis eventually clashed with eighteenth century’s commercial society. My research project, entitled ‘Andrew Fletcher and the Scottish Enlightenment’, will build on my PhD dissertation and engage with the reception and the role his works had in shaping the following reflections in Scotland and Europe. As my thesis enlarged the theoretical basis of Fletcher’s thought to continental natural law, political economy and cosmopolitan republicanism, it resulted in the necessity to rediscuss his impact. Far from constituting a theoretical dead–‐end, Fletcher’s works will thus be reconnected with later Scottish authors, as I will try to shed a new light on the meanings of his legacy. On a broader level, the project will question the academic divide between Humanism and the early Scottish Enlightenment, and investigate the continental origins of the latter.