About Roberto Zaugg

Detailed CV >>


Ambizione fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation at the University of Lausanne.

I am a historian of the 16th - 19th centuries. After studying at the University of Florence and gaining a PhD at the University of Naples "Federico II", I have worked at the University of Basel, at Sciences Po (Paris) and at the University of Lausanne, before joining the University of Bern in 2018. I teach Early Modern History and African History. I have also been the coordinator of the Basel Graduate School of History, a vistiting scholar at the University of Ghana (Accra) and the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), as well as Gabriel Monod fellow of the Institut fran├žais d'histoire en Allemagne (Frankfurt).

In my PhD thesis I have examined the condition of foreigners in eighteenth-century Naples. This has led me to engage with the history of judicial institutions, Mediterranean merchant diasporas, diplomatic relations, as well as the history of citizenship rights and migrations. More recently I have extended the focus of my research to autobiographical writings, the slave trade, the cultural history of colonialism and - from a  geographical point of view - to  the German-speaking territories,  the Atlantic world and West Africa.

I am currently completing a research project dealing with the manuscript journal of  barber-surgeon Johann Peter Oettinger (1682-1696), which relates the author's extended journeyman migration through the Holy Roman Empire and the Dutch Republic as well as his two trans-Atlantic voyages aboard Dutch and  Brandenburg slave ships. Together with Craig Koslofsky (University of Illinois) I am moreover preparing an English edition of Oettinger's journal.

In 2018 the Swiss National Science Foundation has awarded me a four-year professorship and research grant to build up a team of scholars exploring past entanglements between the Italian states and the Atlantic world. In this frame, my individual research focusses on cultural meanings of red coral and trade networks connecting the Mediterranean with sub-Saharan Africa.