History is culturally and anthropologically mediated. The masses become protagonist of their history, even though the rationale and the forces of change sometimes are blurred, or even overlap. Yet, major social transformations do not originate from the decisions of charismatic figures: the thoughts and actions of historical figures themselves are the result of streams of events and processes unfolding over extended time-periods and these are non-linear, non teleological; they are the ideal subject for an anthropological study.
An anthropological outlook takes into account the inventions born out of collective wisdom that are generally neglected by the official historiography. Take the Middle Age, for instance. It was a period of major technological advance, viz. But those accomplishments were the outcome of the practical skills and reasoning of nameless people; it took hundreds of years to develop and perfect them. But while less arresting innovations are studied by heart, watermills are confined to textbooks dealing with the history of agriculture.
It is not a coincidence that most of the techniques that sensibly improved our life, starting from the Middle Age, were introduced in the Alps, and have been developed and tested by those people that for centuries have been regarded as uncivilized. Among them, watermills, sophisticated irrigation techniques, sawmills, forges, oil mills, grindstones, furnaces, presses, felt cloth, etc.
Social history, like anthropology and psychoanalysis study not only the conscious and clearly identifiable activities of human beings but also, and with a special emphasis, what is left unsaid, what is taken for granted and tacitly assumed, the collective subconscious, psychological and mental framework of a particular society at a given time.
Anthropological historiography describes the culture of a community, its aspirations, its change, standstill, or even regression, its adaptation to the environment and to changing economic, political, religious and social conditions. Its focus is on collective history, where groups, communities and the masses play the central role and where the experts attempts to figure out the whys and wherefores of the life of anonymous people at the same time influencing and influenced by the socio-cultural milieu.
Teaching people to appreciate popular wisdom: identity economy and the role of tradition Fieldwork research, mostly in Africa, enabled Balandier 23 and other exponents of dynamic anthropology, a branch of anthropology that is concerned with changes in the communities under study, to question the commonly held view that there existed a dualism between tradition and modernity. This, he found too simplistic and reductionist. Today, globalization is bringing these issues back into the limelight. Dynamic anthropology identifies and explicates multifarious influences and cultural changes affecting not only traditional cultures but society as a whole.
Modernity and globalization are often perceived by the public as leading to destructuration, fragmentation, if not to the extinction of age-old systems of values. In reality, while some disappear, other cultures are revitalized, sometimes restored, when symbols and rituals of collective identification are once again in fashion. Hobsbawm 24 submits that a tradition is not a cultural fact, it is not something that is already present in a society: it is a use that changes over time and can be made from nothing; and its adoption is made more convenient by material and immaterial needs.
This is why we should not think of tradition as something that belongs to the past; to the contrary, it plays an important part in the definition of the present, by affecting the perception of events and of the need and direction of change. It follows that categories such as false and authentic have little meaning in the debate revolving around the concepts of modernity and tradition. Why is it so badly needed in the timeframe, space, mentality, sensibility of the community under scrutiny or in which positive actions are being undertaken?
Sometimes anthropologists may be asked to revise, modernize and reinvent rituals and archaic folklore to make them more plausible. This can be done for several reasons, like rebuilding cohesion around shared symbolisms to prevent social break-ups, or to promote tourism and the identity economy, and so forth. In the light of the above, refusing to do this in the name of academic purism and the cult of authenticity may be counterproductive: the degree of acceptance of the revised tradition is really the only indication that such effort was worth it.
One of the most interesting and stimulating outcomes of the combination of ecological and anthropological research concerns traditional skills and knowledge in the use of environmental resources. One can easily see it as hyper-specialization and balanced adjustment to every single local condition, in accordance with the requirements of a specific culture and its dominant values. There is a general tendency to cut down on waste and function as a closed cycle, one in which garbage is re-utilised as an energy source e. Indeed, the two terms come from the same Greek root, oikos, which stands for home, indicating both the domestic and the natural environment as a shelter and a production unit.
They are not opposed but complementary, and this the most important lesson we have to learn from rural civilizations. One of the ways in which we can recover this traditional wisdom is by means of the identity economy, which is at once technology-oriented and rooted in the history of a community as well as based on innovative forms of advertising.
It combines high margins of profit, respect for and appreciation of local identities, and social growth. It is along this line that several communities with a strong identity are working to brand their products as traditional. Since the report of the Club of Rome and MIT 27 was published, which explained that growth is not unlimited, that the current conception of economy, environment and their relationship might lead to catastrophic consequences, traditional systems of farming and forestry, herding and land-management have been resumed.
Development anthropology and tourism In the Alps, in peripheral communities, people feel the need to initiate processes of development compatible with the revitalization and appreciation of their cultural heritage. The latter is clearly an important element in the establishment of new forms of local entrepreneurship. To do this, it is indispensable that specialists should carry out a preliminary survey. There is nothing worse than a tourist who feels that he has been deceived.
It is also better to avoid criticisms from the local cultural institutions and associations set on defending the integrity of their culture and prevent its commodification. Specialists can wed the historical-anthropological research with handicraft, gastronomy, hospitality, tours, and entertainment in general, as well as to the objectives of public and private investors. It takes hard work, clear goals, diplomatic skills, and the ability to involve the local population.
Constant, specialized training is needed for all the people involved in this kind of project: authorities, entrepreneurs, new employees, teachers, etc. More generally, the whole population should be kept informed about the progress and outcome of this programme; while researchers have to realise that these tasks are not irrelevant to their career goals.
Widespread participation of ordinary citizens will allow them to take matters in their own hands. In order to reverse the current demographic and social trends we need a cultural renaissance of peasant civilization, especially among the youth, who must understand that the things that they are most ashamed of might well turn out to be worthy of transmission to posterity and a great opportunity for employment and for the enhancement of the quality of life in the mountain valleys.
Yet 80 percent of the Peninsula will be virtually cut off; mountain regions will be especially affected by the digital divide, 28and this is particularly unfortunate, given that their inhabitants are those who, due to their peripheral position, would most benefit from this switchover and who had been told that hi-tech innovation would improve their lives by allowing them to work without commuting.
But while larger producers will increase the prices and hire more immigrant workforce, thousands of family-led businesses in the mountains will be hard hit with serious consequences for the environmental integrity of the land. Worse still, European policies to support agriculture neglect mountain peasants who are not included in development programmes.
While the focus of our research is on the Alps, 32 we should also like to point out that things might be even worse in the rest of Italy. After all, municipalities not in the mountains are only 4. By contrast, in the North-West and in the in the North-East they are The fact remains that, in spite of the relative ignorance of the Italian public, the 13,, inhabitants of the mountains, scattered across , square kilometres, share a common heritage and identity.
The Italian Alps extend for a thousand-odd kilometres from east to west, over an area that is 42 percent of the total mountain area of the Peninsula. In , 4. The alpine habitat is highly heterogeneous and outsiders looking at the Alps feel a sense of inaccessibility and environmental fragility; or they look at them as the garden and playground of Europe; or else they may be altogether indifferent to them.
Lack of knowledge is an important component of the various perceptions: when students are asked how many people they think live in the Alps, the usual answer ranges from , to a couple million inhabitants. On the other hand, the Alps are far from homogenous: it is fair to say that the western portion does not seem to be able to overcome modernity and its demographic trend is negative. The eastern part seems to be able to better cope with it. Still, even within the same district there large social and income disparities are likely. In the course of our study we have gathered census data for all the alpine municipalities for the to period, to generate depopulation maps sorted by total number and by gender.
The first map shows trends of demographic increase and reduction over the past 50 years. The second map documents in greater detail where people are leaving out and where they are not.
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Maps show even more clearly that the Western Alps and some parts of Friuli and Veneto are confronted with a severe crisis. South Tyrol has a positive trend and Trentino is somewhere in between. However, if we compare the historical record, we can see that things are slowly improving, even though the remotest valleys are at a critical junction and some villages have by now passed the demographic point of no return.
A more detailed treatment of these statistical data can be found in the appendix. In order to do this, we compare the average rates of demographic growth in the Alps and in the rest of the Peninsula, and show which districts have managed to keep up the pace over the previous half a century fig. There are other exceptions in the most economically developed Lombard valleys, with a good concentration of metallurgical and handicraft industry. In the provinces of Varese and Verona, growth has generally come from the outside and residents must commute on a daily basis and become less attached to their birthplace.
The same is just as true in Bormio and in the Susa Valley, whose economy is heavily dependent on Switzerland and in other municipalities that are virtual satellites of the industrial districts of Turin and Genoa. At the time of the study in question, these settlements normally exceed 5, inhabitants and were within the distance of km.
Even the attempts by provincial and regional authorities to undertake expensive developmental policies for their peasant communities in the mountains have been frustrated by the unwillingness of residents to continue to live there. The same occurred in Switzerland as well. In Italy, a study commissioned by Lega Ambiente and Confcommercio indicates that most small settlements are located in mountain areas. Ditto for Grenoble, with over , inhabitants, is the largest city of the Alps.
According to the Italian census, the average alpine municipality has 2, inhabitants, but this figure belies the fact that the census surveys also consider urban districts located in the Alps. In reality, , that is, In Lombardy, Aosta Valley and Trentino half of them are getting smaller. This is a clear indication that South Tyrolean policies targeting the strengthening of local identities have been most successful.
It is not just a matter of financial resources. The Aosta Valley has received an even greater amount of subsidies, but this has not reversed the downward-spiralling trend. Where do people go? People in the Alps gradually move to the nearest cities, which are becoming densely populated, polluted, stuck in traffic jams, and are losing their identity. Unlike cities in the plains, which have developed homogeneously, cities in the mountains are physically constrained and had to grow longitudinally, absorbing several rural settlements along the way.
As a result, the farthest neighbourhoods find themselves too distant from downtown and, because of their low-income housing estates, they witness the emergence of latent or actual interethnic rows between the original residents, who feel they should be in charge, and the newcomers, who end up even more alienated. Mountains near, mountains far With the economic growth and the increasing European integration, national boundaries are less and less a barrier and, since the Nineties, new forms of EU-sponsored interaction and interdependence between alpine regions are taking shape.
Yet this has also led to a growing divide between advantaged and disadvantaged districts and the intensification of traffic movements. Gradually, the economic heart of Germany has shifted towards the subalpine regions of Bavaria and Baden. Additionally, this entire area lies at the crossroads of East-West and North-South trade.
They are all near the Alps. Grenoble and Sophia Antipolis, with its environmentally friendly and culturally sustainable Science Park, are emerging as foremost hi- tech players. That there is a great potential for innovation in this area is past doubt. One only has to think about the highly competitive industrial districts of the prealpine valleys north of Brescia, and about Valle Strona, Valsesia, Biella, and Belluno.
We could also mention the numerous universities and related research centres in the Alps and pre-Alps. Statistics are startling. Up until recently, the position of a town along one of the main traffic routes between north and south was regarded as an advantage. However, nowadays, transport has become faster, and stops between Munich and Verona are mostly unnecessary.
Recent protests against the re-opening of the Mont Blanc tunnel and against high speed railways in Val di Susa and elsewhere, 44 the blockades of the Brennero highway, the Swiss referenda promoted by the local population, are a testimony to the fact that people are by now perfectly aware that traffic can only be advantageous when it stops somewhere along the way between departure and destination, whereas it is only harmful, economically, environmentally and socially, when it passes through.
This is unfortunately true also with respect to secondary roads, in the Alps as in the Pyrenees. Only the first generation commuted to go to work. This notwithstanding, such tourist towns attract workforce from the surrounding region. In Trentino, only 12 settlements in can be classified as towns or cities. Next, we have estimated the duration of commuting to and fro these towns by private and public transportation in wintertime. The distinction between public and private means of transportation is extremely important because reaching a bus stop may turn into quite an adventure when seasonal conditions are harsh.
Owning a car is therefore a necessity and a privilege. People who are too old or too young to drive find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. We have then examined the contention that more distant settlements are more likely to lose inhabitants, compared to those closer to a town.
The resulting cartographic evidence substantiates this hypothesis, with a few exceptions: the border areas with Switzerland, the Fiemme and Fassa valleys, and the Giudicarie. Although most towns with at least inhabitants see their population increase, there are some sporadic cases of towns that are shrinking inexorably. Liguria: Vado Ligure Savona. These towns are usually in areas hit by serious economic downturns, such as Friuli or Carnia. Take for instance Tarvisio, a town whose fortune was built on the customs barrier — which has been since removed — and on the weekly market, or Gorizia, Cividale, Tarcento, and Gemona, one-time thriving towns that could not compete with the emerging markets.
In Veneto, Asiago and Recoaro Terme remind us that even celebrated tourist resorts may at some point become unfashionable, when appropriate countermeasures have not been taken. Alternatively, when something is done to buck the trend, it is already too late: this is the case of Feltre, where a university has been established, but to little avail.
In Piedmont, Varallo Sesia, Rimella, Rassa suffered from the dismantling of the textile industrial base of Val Sesia, without ever fully recovering. Barghe and Peveragno lost most of their inhabitants during the past century. In Liguria, Vado Ligure has been affected by industrial restructuring, which has caused large unemployment and emigration. In Lombardy, Lovere and Vestone have been hit hard by the crisis of the iron industry.
Insubria is the region between Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore which lies on the slopes of the Alps and includes the valleys north of Bergamo and Brescia. Milan is where a large share of the workforce of the area commutes to. Workers, often employed in the building industry, may have to travel km or more every day. Lombardy is the region where safety procedures are followed most scrupulously, but it is also the region with highest percentage of work injuries, precisely because construction workers are too tired from commuting.
The same applies to Trentino. Our study reveals that many immigrant families who happened to settle, temporarily, in small villages, cannot wait to move out. Many local residents, by contrast, are willing to commute for a well-paid job if this allows them to continue to live where they grew up. Switzerland is a favourite destination, since Swiss employers are well disposed towards Italian workers, and particularly towards those coming from the mountains.
As a result, many of them manage to go on to a brilliant career in healthcare and education. If the Italian alpine towns and cities offered the same opportunities, many young professionals would most likely choose to stay and services for local residents would not deteriorate as they are currently doing. The valleys of Fiemme and Fassa are another example of a place where the local population is not declining. In this area, specialized training has been offered to local students and young professionals to guide them through the application process for EU funding.
Such spirit of initiative is particularly welcome, given that raising standards of expertise and best practice certainly pays off in the long term, for instance through the creation of a network of small but enterprising service and production companies and cooperatives established by young graduates who could live elsewhere but decide to stay and improve the living standards of their communities.
We maintain that the results can be extended to other realities of a similar kind, in the Alps as in the Apennines, and in other rural regions of Europe as well. At the heart of anthropology is the study of humankind. On this count, anthropology has much in common with history, sociology, psychology, medicine, etc. What sets this discipline apart is the methodological approach: the fieldwork, its long duration and the close interaction and considerable familiarity with the people under study.
The one thing that all anthropologists, regardless of their theoretical orientation and political sympathies, agree upon is that armchair speculation is sterile. Participant observation is indispensable if one wants to understand human interactions and relations. Therefore, the anthropological fieldwork consists in spending at least a few months in place, interviewing the locals, most of all those that are at the centre of the investigation — in our case: the local authorities, the entrepreneurs, the youth and the women in general.
Talking with and listening to people raised in a different culture is what anthropology is all about. Sometimes anthropologists must pay special attention to what cannot or must not be said and to what is so taken for granted that people assume that everyone knows that. There is no such thing as a society that is completely transparent to itself: much of a culture is hidden in each person, subconsciously, after the internalization of precepts and values.
Anthropologists are expected to interpret the local model of thinking and doing things and to explain it to those who do not belong in there. They do so by means of participant observation. During the years prior to the drafting of the present report, researchers have done fieldwork in different locations and have kept in touch constantly, also by visiting their colleagues.
Not only that: such locations have been included in EU-sponsored development programmes run by Cealp, so that it has been possible to test the reliability of the collected data and of the relevant conclusions and their usefulness in promoting the local business. As part of this programme, local residents have enrolled in skills training courses in entrepreneurship and tourism marketing and promotion, before, during and after the fieldwork.
There is an ongoing partnership with Cimego, which began several years ago. Sagron Mis is the only municipality where the partnership has been discontinued. This is blatantly untrue, but it is held as self-evident, and it persists in opposition to a system of values that has taken shape over the past two centuries, beginning with the French Revolution, in urban milieus.
In other words, even though these communities are immersed in a liberal-democratic environment, the dominant rules are of a different order, and arise from a segmentary society, which is collectivist rather than democratic, and nominally egalitarian but hostile to diversity and distinction. The classification of political systems in segmentary and complex, was first set forth by Emile Durkheim46 and further elaborated by E.
Evans Pritchard and M. Fortes, 47 as part of an analysis of the factors involved in maintaining cohesion and internal stability in a clan, tribe, or larger society. In state societies, legitimate political, administrative-bureaucratic, juridical, military and repressive structures provide the necessary cohesion. Instead, in segmentary societies mechanisms of internal adjustment that are not always visible serve the same purpose: only expert analysis can tease out specific determinants and dynamics.
This type of social structure is composed of segments and sub-segments clans, sub-clans, and dominant families that form alliances or merge, held together by ties of kinship and loyalty; or else, they contest each other, according to consensual rules and, in democratic contexts, also in an entirely peaceful manner, as in the democratic competition for local elections. A system such as this leaves room for informal agreements on codes of conduct that maintain the social order.
As a result, statistical analysis of voting generally reveals that people cast their ballots uniformly, by family membership; that is, there exists a general consensus on certain principles and criteria regarding how things should be done that are seldom contested or transgressed, to prevent the dissolution of the community.
Social systems like these demand structural homogeneity and voluntary adherence to the group rules and values on the part of their members. The other side of the coin is that formal equality exacts a high price: the exclusion of any kind of personal distinction and ambition which may threaten the solidity and stability of the community. This is because when a person stands out, this is regarded as a violation of a collective property right.
What is more, gender and age differences do exist and are of considerable importance. The ostensible egalitarianism conceals a strictly hierarchical and exclusionary organization, where some hegemonic families and clans monopolize political representation and are granted liberties and entitlements that the rest of the community can only dream of. So, for instance, during a mayor and council election campaign, one of the candidates claimed that he was entitled to be the designated mayor, for he was the grandson of a former mayor, even though he had spent most of his adult life working elsewhere, in large cities.
His interlocutors did not seem to take exception to this line of argument. Open confrontation in a democratic fashion is not without problems, and it is generally shunned. Taking sides is likewise avoided as much as possible and a conflict on rival election candidacies is apt to provoke lasting rifts. It follows that material comfort cannot be displayed: large investments and purchases are often made elsewhere to dodge resentful criticism.
Its levelling function is even more obvious when it comes to property transmission: sons and daughters inherit in equal measure and the estate fragmentation proceeds unchecked, from one generation to the next, because siblings are more willing to sell to outsiders and leave rather than sell to their relatives and enrich them.
Another more practical reason is that relatives and villagers are presumed to sell at a fair price, that is, low, while transactions with outsiders do not raise the same concerns. The opposite is true: a successful sale benefits the whole community, directly or indirectly. Having said that, envy is not the exclusive domain of alpine cultures. The same mentality does typify all closed systems: viz.
Influential families are those who own the largest estates, who can help their heirs to buy a house when they form their own families, and who have several cars and purchase new ones every few years. At the same time, they cannot boast about it: everyone should know about their prosperity, but it is considered bad form to display it too loudly. A common faith, culture and the exchange of favours concur to maintain a functional balance between these countervailing forces.
Authority is conferred upon the head of the family and of the clan and he, for he is generally a man, has the duty to see that bonds of loyalty are respected and that all members of the clan give a hand when the clan needs it e. Those who refuse to help are branded as reckless failures and the community may well cast the blame on the entire clan. In practice, this mentality neutralizes most attempts at social change and development based on self- employment and entrepreneurship. Only the strong-minded and strong-willed can overcome the powerful means of social control like envy, collective sanction, gossip and the suppression of debate and controversy for the sake of harmony.
A fragmented society One of the hallmarks of segmentary societies is social fragmentation: clans, tribes, hamlets that do not share common interests even though commonalities are self-evident to outsiders. Rival groups that do not seem to understand that their often unreasonable internecine conflicts are self-defeating. In order to shed some light on these phenomena, one has to cast a glance at the past, when alpine settlements were scattered, so as to enable the community to best harness the local resources. In areas with a prevalence of romance culture, people grouped together in hamlets connected to a larger settlement, as in a galactic polity.
When the climate was harsh, this community became self-sufficient, with their priest, their small grocery store, their school, tavern, and dairy and, of course, their own peculiar identities. Weddings were celebrated between members of families who lived next to each other in order to strengthen their ties of loyalty. As a further demonstration of their autarchic bent, in some cases, like Samolaco in Val Chiavenna, the local council was periodically relocated from a hamlet to the next. There also was need for particularism and localism, as villagers were reluctant to surrender any room for self-determination to a modern, centralized administration.
My personal experience may give some indications of the kind of difficulties that one might encounter in alpine villages. Then, because there were only residents, we decided that the square before the town hall of the main hamlet was the most suitable location for the event. Little did we know that such a change would cause most residents not to attend the festival. One of the major obstacles to the development of alpine communities is indeed the difficulty that people encounter in overcoming localisms and parochialisms in order to build up a proactive approach to the solution of problems which, after all, affect everyone.
It seems as though their subconscious is haunted by the inextinguishable fear that someone is out to steal their hard-won properties and rob them of their traditional entitlements. Then, to make things worse, there are the endless and seemingly unsolvable feuds between families and clans, whose origin is lost in the mists of time. Such rivalries reach their boiling point when, because of depopulation, schools, which truly represent the spirit, the essence of the community, probably more than the council house and the church, are forced to close. There countless examples of this unwillingness to cooperate in small villages.
In Valle del Chiese there are two networks for the promotion and advertising of tourism and leisure that seldom work together. The inhabitants of Cimego slightly more than are loath to work with those of Castel Condino about , which is only 5 km away. Nobody really knows why. Thankfully, though, it appears that parochialism is not as endemic among the younger generations.
Associations and volunteering: obstacle or engine of change?
Hostinger ada di seluruh dunia
Despite the received view that cities are brimful of intense social activities, the evidence points to a greater participation to community life in alpine villages. It is precisely this trust that could make the attempt to set up local business enterprises for a sustainable development a feasible undertaking. Unfortunately, this is hardly ever the case: fear of conflict and responsibilities, and of a meritocratic and quantitative assessment of individual efforts, leads to the outright rejection, sometimes exhibited with pride, of earnings and of the possibility that someone might actually profit from it.
When voluntary associations are ready to take a step forward and become small companies, psychological and socially induced inhibitions are so strong that people prefer to renounce rather than become entrepreneurs. This equally applies to all our fieldwork settings: in Cimego, Sagron Mis, and Luserna, earnings from work done for the associations are given to the association itself or to charity, instead of reinvesting it. For this reason, tourist shops that could have enticed visitors to come have not been opened and sales of typical products, which would be a valid means to retain a strong local identity, have never taken off.
Paradoxically, then, the volunteering mentality is apt to retard the economic growth of the community and to perpetuate the precariousness and vulnerability of certain categories of residents, especially young people and women. The question of generation gaps and the incommunicability of aspirations and values between the young and the aged is probably the root cause of this socio-economic inactivity.
Even when a company is created, it is the elder associates or full-time employees that run the enterprise, and they are moved by the belief that their ethos must be one of service, and often a thankless one, and are not willing to adopt a genuinely entrepreneurial attitude. They do not need to earn money, because their incomes are already secure, and so they put a major emphasis on dedication and vocation, and feel entitled to run the business according to their principles.
We used to do things for free. It thus so happens that those actors that seemed so indispensable before, are now perceived as an awful burden. The difference between an office clerk with fixed working hours and a self-employed woman need not be stressed. It can be the cause of violent rows between spouses, especially when the elderly must be entrusted to nursing home or assisted-living facilities because women cannot be there to tend gratuitously to their needs.
Eventually, at times, the old customs and generations give way to the new ones. But the price to pay for this timidity is that most alpine settlements are bound to disappear within a generation or two, or to become holiday homes for city-dwellers who will only live there for a few weeks in summertime. Needing someone from the outside: patterns of inclusion and exclusion People living in small villages on the slopes of the Alps are aware that envy and fragmentation fray the fabric of the society in which they live and believe that these problems can only be solved by the intervention of a strong leader supported by outsiders who, by definition, are thought to be objective.
In these small communities the role of town halls and local civil servants is crucial, because they are looked to for help and leadership, regardless of their political orientation. Political disagreements can be set aside in a milieu in which nearly everyone can become an active participant in the decision-making process — as opposed to the neat separation of private life and politics in the cities —, and competent majors enjoy a greater measure of legitimacy. Even when they do commit mistakes, that is easily forgiven, provided that their blunders are not too serious and that they display a sincere commitment to work for the benefit of all and to further their own agenda.
Aside from an acknowledged leader, people also suggest that they would favour initiatives to bring detached professionals from the outside. It is openly conceded that rivalries and fragmentation squelch all attempts to promote an entrepreneurial spirit. This is why alpine communities have proven far more open to external advice than urban districts. Most interestingly, patterns of inclusion and integration have worked far better and faster than in the plains. Needless to say, this does not mean that everything proceeds smoothly.
It is not infrequent that experts from the outside hold on to a romantic view of rural communities 2 which partially blinds them to the realities of life and work in the mountains and does not help them understand the actual potential of the region under scrutiny. When these issues are duly confronted, experts enjoy a degree of latitude that they could only dream of in an allegedly more open urban milieu. Differences of gender, race, political and religious affiliation, lifestyle, etc.
One developed a nearly pathological hatred for anything in any way related to the mountains and mountain life, to the point that she would not go back to Cealp, which is located at m, on Mount Bondone. Two researchers declined a formal invitation to continue to work for Cealp and another one took up the offer on condition that she would never do fieldwork again. There is a further instance of alienation among urban-dwellers being asked to spend some time in a village.
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During a training course local development sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment and FORMEZ and run by Cealp, most classes were held in Cimego, which seemed to be a suitable location for twenty-odd students examining development process at the sharp end; and indeed, the experience turned out negative from the start. They spent most of the time in the hotel because they felt they were being constantly watched. Coming from the cities, they had a false, somewhat romantic conception of what life in the mountains would be like,48 and believed that they would enjoy the same kind of entertainment that one can find in fashionable tourist destinations.
When they realised that things were different, and that the pace of life in a village is much slower, they decided that they would rather remain in the hotel and play cards. They did not come to terms with the fact that in a village one must live side by side with people who may be unpleasant and even hostile, and that there is no alternative to that.
Furthermore, local authorities are generally genuinely interested in contributing to the success of the development programme; they sometimes provide office space and accommodation for fieldworkers, and see that they are given what they need to carry out the project successfully. Some even come from other villages that have not been included in the research to ask whether it would be possible to get involved.
Therefore, it would be seriously wrong to presume that mountain villages can only be described as closed communities. When it comes to talk about themselves and their community, and offer help whenever they see that it would make a difference for the ethnographer, they are more generous than the people of the cities. Some measure of openness persists even in the face of blunders.
Outsiders are expected to commit mistakes. If they have earned the respect of the villagers, they may be sanctioned but, after a while, they are re-integrated into the community, which is characterized by high internal control and social coercion as well as by defence mechanisms against external aggressions, which simultaneously facilitate group cohesion. This is hardly the case in the cities, where human relations are more loose and malleable, and the exclusion of a member of the group does not normally threaten the stability of the group.
What the outsider is expected to demonstrate is the willingness to settle within the community. Otherwise, marriage and stable companionship bring in new members of the family, who are automatically incorporated into the community. In practice, new members do not enjoy the same status and privileges of the others, but if they accommodate themselves to the new situation, they can climb the ladder and even become mayor.
In this case, former bonds of loyalty and mutual obligations are resumed. The third scenario is when outsiders buy a house in the village, and settle in the village, showing that they are willing to take part in the life of the community. In my own experience, being the owner of a house in Trentino has certainly helped to make things easier for me in dealing with local authorities and politicians.
Appreciation is also extended to those who demonstrate that they are self-sufficient, as when they restore an old house to its original glory by themselves, or when they clean up a garden or when they gather firewood with the other villagers. Conventional wisdom has it that, for all the snobbery of urban-dwellers, manual labour is unavoidable and ennobling — lazing around is, as it were, sinful —, and those who do not shrink from it are worthy of respect and aid.
Therefore, to go gather firewood with other men is praiseworthy, even if one does not need firewood. Naturally, an adequate knowledge of the region and of its sometimes partly forgotten cultural traditions and customs is an additional advantage when research and development projects are examined for approval. In a great many communities people are painfully conscious of the risk of losing the recollection of various attributes of the local peasant civilisation and of the traces of human activities.
The expert is often invited precisely for the purpose of recovering vanishing records: this was the case of Cimego, Ronzone and Lucerna, that devote a large share of the local budget to cultural activities. Patterns of inclusion: immigrants All in all, despite possible preconceived notions, those alpine communities that we have researched have demonstrated to be more open and welcoming towards foreigners than city- dwellers. Working and housing conditions appeared to be better than in metropolitan areas and the exploitation of immigrants that is so frequent there was nowhere to be found.
Most of all, many had managed to have their families join them, also with the help and the generosity of their neighbours, who had donated pieces of furniture and wood, an act that, besides its practical value, has a considerable symbolic value as well. Some of them, after a few years, have bought a house and their presence in the community has been seen favourably. Instead, when some of them chose to move somewhere else, their neighbours regretted their departure.
Alongside of this - and this is something even more significant and so rare in large urban areas where immigrants are far more numerous but tend to group together along ethnic lines and seldom mix with members of the ethnic majority —is the active participation of immigrants to the life of the village. Opportunity for socialization in rural settings abound: working together on something that benefits the whole community, like road paving, collecting firewood, and organizing festivals, including celebrations of multiculturalism. If someone is not work-shy, his or her ethnic identity is a matter of no concern for the other residents.
In Terragnolo, immigrant families from Maghreb were granted the right to gather firewood, invited to throw ethnic parties, cook their own food for the other villagers. The children of these immigrants can easily fit in, attend the same schools, play in the same sport teams and become members of the same associations as the children of the original inhabitants.
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Only those immigrants who do not appear to be interested in doing their own part within the community, are denigrated. This is further proof that open-minded local authorities could achieve so much more if they realized the immense potential for integration and enrichment of these intercultural encounters in rural and mountain communities.
There is nothing in here: commuting and alienation Traffic congestion is a serious problem in the alpine valleys. Most cars do not come from the outside, though. The owners of those cars are residents who refuse to employ means of public transportation - too inefficient, or simply inexistent, they say - but are attracted by the many recreational opportunities of alpine towns and cities. Cimego best exemplifies this trend. Those who stay and work in Cimego have to make do with what the local job market can offer, which is not much.
Women who stay normally become housewives and look for seasonal and summer jobs. As a rule, these young men and women are not very keen on studying, which they see as irrelevant in terms of the potential impact on their lives. For many adjusting to the life of the city where they could pursue higher education is simply not worth the candle. They are not helped to fit in nor do they believe that fitting in is necessary. They experience discrimination and exclusion, are teased and called names, and therefore tend to stay on their own.
On the other hand, those who work and study in a city are perceived as different, neither fish nor flesh, and find it hard to hang out with those who do not. But the evidence contradicts this statement: in many villages there are plenty of abandoned houses, sometimes even blocks that are left to fall apart for lack of renovation. Why is that so? There are a number of reasons. First off, partible inheritance practices may lead to estate and property fragmentation. Some of the owners no longer live in the village, and yet they refuse to sell or to rent the house, for fear of usucaption lawsuits.
Civic spirit in Italy leaves much to be desired, so that the binding force of the law is dramatically weakened before the personal and family interests. Instead of renovating, some prefer to build a new house where they are not supposed to, and in so doing they spoil the landscape. Finally, young people prefer to buy an apartment or a house rather than rent them. Some wait until their parents can provide one, but at the same time parents are happier when they can give the apartment to married children.
This of course means that apartments and houses may well stay unoccupied for years. If children come back from the city, it is often because they got married and their parents have ensured that they will be given a furnished apartment. Since the end of the Fifties, massive waves of emigration took place, which took away with them much of the vitality and resourcefulness of alpine communities, causing an epidemic of alienation and uprootedness.
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The impact of industrial and metropolitan culture is also destabilizing. Elderly people are especially affected by these transformations, because they are the least willing and capable to adapt to new frames of reference and symbolic repertoires that displace the reassuring benchmarks of their ancestors. However, the social costs of this development are high in terms of marginality, dignity, and self-esteem. Herding and farming are regarded as undignified and unclean and the number of farms and amount of farmland in Italy is shrinking more rapidly than anywhere else in the Alps.
Social isolation, periodical disconnection with those peers who spend the summertime elsewhere, and lack of entertainment are among the reasons why young people choose not to take that kind of job. This phenomenon is less dramatic where communities have organized ways to contrast the sense of solitude: in France government policies and trade unions have helped seasonal workers to get involved in cultural initiatives.
Elsewhere, mountain pastures are the destination of holiday-makers, some of whom reside in villages for the rest of the year and own log-houses and cabins on the mountains. This helps alleviate the loneliness. The root of the problem is not economic. Also, from the point of view of psychological well-being, working exceedingly long hours without interruption, with little spare time to interact with colleagues and guests, is definitely less pleasant than having time to think and read and write, when the daily chores are over and done.
These days, the highest aspiration for workers is to find a stable and well-paid job, congruent with the level of education and specialization they have attained, with regular working hours, well-defined goals and little need for further training and refreshing, in a healthy and clean environment, and with a reasonable amount of spare time.
Those who fail to achieve these standards are pitied. At the same time, most people maintain that that ultimate goal is almost unattainable unless one is prepared to leave. Thus the actual abandonment of a place is preceded by the psychological habituation to abandonment. Those social categories that are more vulnerable to this kind of pessimistic discourse, namely women, youth, and the more literate, who often feel discriminated in a traditional society, end up despising their own culture and identity by comparing it with the more free, open, sociable and entertaining urban culture, more attentive to individual needs and therefore more likely to meet great expectations about oneself and the future.
Having said that, the time of mass-emigration is over and things have changed. Several alpine areas have become the preferred destination for a tiny stream of immigration which, however, has yet to compensate for emigration losses and for the flight of educated people. Likewise, it cannot yet counter the process of deterioration of the local communities, marked by the closure of schools for lack of pupils, of pharmacies and post offices for lack of customers, of health services for lack of patients, of sport facilities for lack of children, of factories for lack of workers, of associations for lack of members.
The degradation of cultural life produces a vicious circle that makes these places increasingly less interesting and attractive, both for the residents and the tourists, but the local authorities do not seem to perceive it as the calamity that it actually is, in terms of the sustainable development of these regions. Distrust towards the outsiders may actually increase and compromise the possibility of receiving aid, advice and feedback from external consultants, thus involuntarily reinforcing the vicious circle that we have referred to above.
What people say: social control A retarding factor in the social and economic development of alpine communities is social control, comprising all the measures necessary to keep the social order intact. If so many communities crumble down, that is because they have not been able to respond and adjust to changed circumstances and are still dominated by a mechanism of mutual surveillance monitoring and evaluating the actions of every member. Even today the set of rules that parents and acquaintances instil in children is meant to provide a safe pathway, from schooling to work, to marriage, and to parenthood.
The infringement of rules is punished by merciless gossip but is almost inevitable, insofar as the mass media convey an idea of how life should look like, a portrayal that, especially for women, is completely at variance with traditional values and habits of the mind. Fear of judgment has another terrible consequence: it stifles frank interaction between individuals and clans. Inevitably, then, children do not really know each other, because their parents are not accustomed to hang out together and because, when they go to school, they are assigned to different classes, in the expectation that, in this way, they will be able to familiarize with other peers.
However, when they go back home from school, they spend the rest of the time with their family, not with their new acquaintances. Lest festivities should lead to feuds between clans and families, people meet and celebrate on neutral grounds: the garden, the log-house on the mountain, or the tavern.
But still, relationships outside the family circle are thin and a generalized distrust has the upper hand. Disclosure of intimate, personal information is carefully avoided and this may cause people to feel lonely, alienated and depressed. As a matter of fact, social control has been blamed for the high rates of depopulation in smaller villages by C. A, the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps. One of our main tasks will be to remedy this situation if we want to achieve a reasonably sustainable development.
As long as this vicious circle of harsh criticisms will endure, change and the emergence of an entrepreneurial mentality will not be possible. This is all the more intolerable, given that large amounts of money are left in banking accounts or spent somewhere else, where nobody knows who the investor is and no one can complain. Therefore, ironically, one can see houses in need of renovation that are left untouched, because the owners prefer to buy properties in the city, or abroad, in order to prevent invidious comparisons with other villagers.
Young people and the fear of change Social control is more oppressive when it comes to more vulnerable citizens, such as the younger generations and women, because older people hold the reins of power and establish what is culturally and socially viable and acceptable, and what is not. Those who do not abide by the rules are progressively excluded from participation in the social life of the community.
Since childhood, they are taught not to pursue self-determination and, because most of rural schools have been closed down to balance the budget, children do not get exposed to socialization with their peers as often as it used to be. Most of the time, they stay home and watch TV or play videogames. When they meet at the local pub, they do not really talk about themselves, for fear of being misjudged. In a car, that is where youth discuss issues of intimacy and have their first sexual experiences. Instead, festivals and events are organized and run by adults who also take care of the surveillance of teenagers, who are openly suspected to be prone to misconduct.
Unsurprisingly, both municipalities are governed by young men AND women. When crimes are committed by young people, failure to raise respectable villagers is sometimes imputed to the malign influence of satanic sects, instead of seeking the root-causes in the malaise of the community itself. It is as thought adults could not quite bring themselves to trust the young generations: So, for instance, I was once refused the authorization to host a festival of Celtic music because adults were afraid that teens would get stoned.
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