The free highlands



Title The free highlands: Honour, identity, and change in Central Sardinia (Italy)
Author(s) Antonio Sorge
Date 2007
Place published University of Calgary (Canada),
Abstract This thesis examines patterns of sociocultural change and continuity in Orgosolo, a village in highland Sardinia, Italy. The question addressed is that of how a rural highland community, historically marginalized and having limited sustained contacts with the outside world, experiences and reacts to a process of incorporation into wider networks of communication. The focus of the examination is upon the configuration of value orientations across time and space, and how they articulate among sectors within the highland population. Research conducted in Orgosolo over thirteen months in 2002 and 2003 revealed how a locally distinct variant of the code of honour is at the root of contested views regarding the desirability of two contrasting styles of life -- one urban-oriented and cosmopolitan, the other localist and traditionalist -- that underscore a duality of models of identity and personhood. A key axiom of this work is provided by the suggestion that distinctive ethical values centering on notions of honour have historically pervaded social relations within societies bordering the Mediterranean sea, and have imparted to the region a conceptual unity that is useful for comparative purposes. Orgosolo is seen against this background, and the analysis takes a two-pronged approach. To begin, customary, or 'traditional', norms and values are interpreted with reference to the conditioning effects of a number of longstanding historical, economic, and political pressures. This will be followed by a sustained look at the eventual process of incorporation of the Sardinian highlands into structures of national modernity as well as into wider transnational processes. An important aspect of this second aim is to reveal how ideals, values, and ideologies emergent from the outside world are variously accepted or rejected by Orgolesi. In sum, the analysis remains attentive to the need of presenting elements of local life and value orientation that do not conform to the orthodoxies of Italian national identity, while at the same time making evident that these elements are also highly contested at the local level.

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