Tempo giusto : slow cities and the revitalization of locality in the age of globalisation
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AbstractThe thesis concerns the relationship between globalization and revitalization of locality, and explores the impact of globalization on Orvieto, in Umbria, Italy, and the inhabitants' and municipality's responses to this. Among its profound effects on contemporary societies, I argue that globalization has stimulated strong reactions and movements focusing on re-defining personal and cultural identity and locality. The thesis examines the Italian-born municipal movement, Cittàslow (slow cities), which has grown into a European network promoting localities globally. Cittàslow is a reaction against the perceived negative consequences of globalization processes, in particular against cultural homogenization. By examining continuity and change within key areas of Italian society, food, the family and public rituals such as festivals, I identify how globalization creates structural contradictions, leading to a discrepancy in ideology and practice between the Italian notion of la dolce vita (the sweet life) and contemporary career and lifestyle choices.
The thesis examines the construction and revitalization of locality in Orvieto,highlighting how products, places and events become potent symbols in recreating continuity and a connection between locality, traditions and 'quality of life'. However, the very methods deployed in Cittàslow's and the town's revitalization attempts tend to abstract and commoditize these symbols, distancing them from my informants' lives, as the locally unique is promoted through the global market.
The thesis suggests that Cittàslow takes on particular expressions in eachmember-locality, it is therefore necessary to examine the movement accordingly. In Orvieto, Cittàslow is situated in an anti-authoritarian and anti-institutional climate, which leads to tensions between the movement and certain sections of its population, leading to accusations of Cittàslow as elitist and 'top-down'. Paradoxically, it is this climate which formed the movement, shaping the way Orvieto municipality relates to macro forces. In studying the specific contexts of the 'slow cities', one can further see the particular type of localism that takes shape. In Umbria, the cultural history of campanilismo (local patriotism), civilta (an ideology of town-living) and civic-ness (active participation in political and social life) form Orvietan and Cittàslow's locality production. However, as the movement expands into a European and potentially global movement, the contents of locality are modified; reducing connotations of parochialism and ethnocentricity, changing the movement into a 'global localism'.