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Title: Terroni and Polentoni : where does the truth lie? : an anthropology of social networks and ethnicity in Palermo (Sicily), Italy
Author: Pardalis, Stergios
ISNI:       0000 0004 2684 1393
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2009
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In this thesis, I argue that while Palermo and Sicily, must be understood in the context of both Mediterranean and Italian ethnography, the unique factors which lead to the subordinate economic position of Sicily have also resulted in distinct ethnic and identity politics. Ultimately, however, I suggest that the reduction of importance of the Italian nation-state, in relation to the emerging supra European Union state, renders much of Palermitan distinctiveness less relevant both economically and culturally. Although Italy’s North/South division is primarily based on economic criteria, the transformation of the poor economic conditions of the Italian south into a cultural issue helps perpetuate stereotypes which fuels tensions between the North and the South. Recent ethnic conflicts in Europe, as well as conflict over European Union expansion, have questioned the stability of national borders and have rendered research on national identity both timely and necessary. This anthropological study, carried out in Palermo, the capital of the autonomous region of Sicily, precisely addresses processes of national integration by critically assessing concepts and topics which have marked the anthropology of the Mediterranean. In addition to providing an ethnographic contribution of the particularities of Palermitan ethnic and identity construction, this thesis aims to deconstruct stereotypes that misrepresent Sicilian society. Palermo and its residents are shaped through relationships of unequal power between the centre and the periphery. Sicily’s integration into the European Union, paradoxically, appears to resolve several ongoing issues of national integration. One of the principle conceptual tropes of Mediterranean anthropology has been the honour/shame debates popular from the 1960s. I argue that while such debates have served a variety of fruitful purposes, they neglect the complexities of contemporary Sicily. Instead, I concentrate on the conceptual cluster of honour, the family, social networks and power, as the means by which different levels of society interact, in order to better explain the dynamic relationship between local and national identity. I examine the ways in which the local and the national contrast with one another and how out of such contrasts emerges an identifiable Sicilian, if not Palermitan, identity. The thesis is based on data produced during extended field research in Palermo from April 2005 until August 2006 as well as brief subsequent visits in 2008.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available