Matilde Cassano

Research, 2024, Grantee Link >

Matilde Cassano is a Master’s student in History at the University of Milan. She received a grant from CAF for “Evolution of Perceptions of Wildlife in the Alpine Region: Interactions Between Wild Animals and Rural Communities in Early Modern History.” This project aims to address the historical research gap regarding the relationship between humans and animals, specifically wild ones. Understanding the past becomes crucial in a present marked by imminent total loss of wildlife biodiversity. Exploring animal history helps debunk ancient, unfounded biases, such as those against wolves and bears currently present in the Italian Alpine regions. These animals, although currently existing, face a grim fate due to regional authorities’ decisions. The project seeks to shed light on this dynamic, emphasizing the urgency of historical insights in confronting contemporary biodiversity challenges.

Matilde’s interest in understanding the historical perception of predators shares ground with Patrick Fuery‘s and Lauren Strohacker‘s projects, which aim to challenge the perception of wolves in the U.S. and advocate for their protection.

This grant was made possible with the support of the Animals & Society Institute.

The images below, which reflect attitudes of the time under study, are Le Convoi du Chasseur (“The Hunter’s Convoy”), a print that forms part of the “Achille Bertalli” collection, and is dated between c. 1840–1852, and Cervi Assaliti dai Lupi/Scena nel Tirolo (“Deer Attacked by Wolves/Scene Near Tivoli”) by Gauermann Friedrich and Lauro Agostino, c. 1840–1860.