In this article we analyse the emergence and the transformation of three different socio-natural spaces in a particular historical context, that is, the establishment of a modern state.
We explore this issue researching the relationship between forests and modernization from Unification in 1861 to the 1890's. Over this period Italy experienced a radical change connected with the state-building process, and forests represented a material place where innovations in social and economic development were tested.
Based on three case studies, this article explores how modernity was articulated through urban parks, ironworks, and infrastructures. Those three cases speak of both depletion and conservation; they exemplify the patterns through which in the very making of modernity, Italian society articulated its relationship to nature in an attempt to overcome customary rights and the traditional rural organization of society.
Forests were constructed as socio-ecological spaces reflecting Italy's contested and heterogeneous modernization process upon which political tensions, social conflicts, and economic development theories were inscribed on transformed landscapes.