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Change and memory: the Central Italian countryside, 1945-1970

Oglethorpe, J.S.; (2009) Change and memory: the Central Italian countryside, 1945-1970. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

During the 1950s and 1960s, Italy became an industrial society. The rural world, which had hardly changed over centuries, underwent a momentous transformation. This PhD thesis documents the changes in rural central Italy, specifically the Marche and Umbria regions, between 1945 and 1970, and analyses how this period has been remembered. This research is important because these major changes, including the collapse of the dominant sharecropping system, have had very little attention; central Italy has been neglected in favour of comparisons between North and South. Those who lived through this period have not been heard, and that generation is now disappearing. Fifty interviews were recorded with former sharecroppers and others, in three small areas in the Umbria-Marche Apennines, during study in Italy in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Local archives and libraries were also consulted. The themes of the five chapters are: the decline of sharecropping; the social role of the Church and its ownership of land; migration; change through political action and mechanization; and abandonment of the countryside. The research shows that as people left the countryside to work temporarily elsewhere, many in other European countries, the rural population fell and the agricultural labour market changed. Farming families had less insecurity and more choice. It finds that sharecropping persisted until the 1990s, despite legislation intended to end it, but farmers started to diversify outside the sharecropping contract which no longer determined how people lived. The research suggests that the Church prefers to forget that priests had to manage parish land under sharecropping. Peasants took political action annually over sharecropping contracts, but this was patchy and is not always remembered. Mechanization, however, is shown to have permanently affected the rural economy. The crumbling of characteristic farmhouses in depopulated landscapes is examined; their neglect suggests problematic memories of the peasant past.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Change and memory: the Central Italian countryside, 1945-1970
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of EU Langs, Culture and Society > Italian

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