Dealing with voids: 'ethnography of decline' in the Sardinian mining districts
Antonio Maria Pusceddu (Universitat de Barcelona)
Paper short abstract:
The paper presents an ethnography of decline of mining industry in Sardinia (Italy) through the analysis of local and popular discourses on dispossession, "collective responsibility" and unequal sacrifice in contexts profoundly marked by mine closure plans.
Paper long abstract:
The decline of mining industry in Sardinia - one of the largest in Italy, raised a number of social and economic issues. The underground voids left behind by longstanding mining operations have turned into a socially dense metaphor of widespread social and economic voids. Since the 1970s most of the mines previously exploited by private Italian and European companies were took over by state funded societies, in order to avoid the effects of mass layoffs. Nonetheless, in the 1990s almost every mine in the main ore districts had been closed and dismantled. New prospects of post-industrial economy have been foreseen in the pursuing of the development of tourism and cultural heritage exploitation. In this scenery of advanced de-industrialization, two mines still operated are facing closure in the near future: 1) the last Italian coalmine in the coalfield launched in the 1930s by the fascist regime, that has relied on state subsidies to survive in the post-war European economy; 2) a mine in the largest fluorite vein in Europe, started by a private Italian-Swiss company in the 1950s and successfully operated up until the 1990s, when it was sold to the regional government due to unfavorable market conditions. Focusing on these two case-studies, the paper intends to provide a comparative discussion of local and popular discourses on dispossession of "wealth". Bringing into the framework institutional and political discourses (EU, trade-unions, political parties), the paper tries to outline the shaping of "collective responsibility" and "unequal sacrifice" in the European periphery.
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