Emerging Ruralities: Constructing Distinction, Desire, and Class Through Agritourism in Tuscany Open Access

Easton, Whitney Leigh (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/1c18dg52q?locale=en


Amid the dislocations associated with the European debt crisis, rural areas have been noted as loci of resilience throughout Southern Europe. Backed by claims of "repeasantization" (Van der Ploeg 2008), the so-called "peasants of the 21st century" (Ventura and Milone 2007) are revitalizing rural areas. Consonant with this, changing EU agricultural policy increasingly obliges small and medium-scale farmers to engage in diversification strategies, ultimately working to transform rural areas from landscapes of agricultural production to "landscapes of hypermodern consumption" and tourism (Heatherington 2011). How long-term farmers fit into this development vision has remained tenuous, raising the question of whose voices are represented and whose life projects are supported by such measures.
This research identifies tensions and emerging patterns of inequality between established farmers and neo-rural lifestyle migrants in Tuscany's agritourism sector. For established farmers, agrarian values conflict with the requirements of hosting tourists, which is expressed through ambivalence, stereotyping, and self-marginalizing discourses. Without children who are versed in certain neo-rural sensibilities and devoted to the farm, they struggle to successfully engage in agritourism. On the other hand, neo-rural lifestyle migrants increasingly command the cultural capital, hosting skills, and tastes that give them advantages in agritourism. Volunteer and migrant farm workers also play an under-acknowledged role in recent rural transformations, linking small farms with "globalized countrysides" (Verinis 2011). By considering producers' "economies of sentiment" (Paxson 2012) and class trajectories, this dissertation draws critical attention to the exclusionary dimensions, tensions, and uncertainties that characterize emerging rural transformations in the "New Europe."

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

PART I -- Repeasantization in Rural Central Italy

Chapter 1 -- Introduction: Emerging Landscapes of Power and Rurality 2
Chapter Outlines

Locating European Rural Transformations in the Literature

Repeasantization and Its Critiques
Political Economy of European Union Agriculture and Rural Development

The New Paradigm? Pluriactivity and New Rurality in Europe
European Strategies of Pluriactivity and Repeasantization
Economic Anthropology, Agricultural Anthropology, and Critical Rural Theory: Research Orientations

Chapter 2 -- Rural Change and Ethnographic Research in Amiata 37

Research Site and History

Italy's Peasant Past

Land Reform and Rural Exodus

Migration and Rural Demography in Italy

Fieldwork and the Working Fields in Amiata

Current Small Farm Trajectories in Amiata

Niche Production of Wine and Olive Oil


Organic Farming

Heritage Breeds and Typical Products

Research Methods

Ethnographic Research on Farms and Agritourisms in Amiata

PART II -- Transformations of Established Farming Livelihoods

Chapter 3 -- Tensions, Stereotypes, and Identity in Agritourism Encounters: The Case of Beppe Gaspari 74

Ethnographic Portrait: Beppe Gaspari and Family, between farm, family, and business

Situating Myself as an Anthropologist on Beppe's Farm

Agriturismo at Beppe's Farm

Vignette 1: The Pool Incident

Vignette 2: Beppe and "La Professoressa"

Vignette 3: "I really don't think Beppe cares…"

"Fare una Figura" and the Art of "Making an Impression": Established Farmers' Class Habitus and Trajectories

"Romans think they're the masters of everything…": Stereotypes and Boundary-Work in Agritourism

The "Intelligent" and the "Rough" People: Constructing Identity, Cultural Difference, and Marginality in Amiata

Chapter 4 -- Rooted in Amiata: Transformations of Established Farming Livelihoods 114

Ethnographic Portraits of Established Farming Livelihoods

Ethnographic Portrait: The Gallis, a "traditional" Amiatan family farm

Ethnographic Portrait: The Marinos, an "out of fashion" farming lifestyle

Opting Out of Agritourism and EU Rural Development Initiatives

Ethnographic Portrait: The Valentis, a family farm and agriturismo

Ethnographic Portrait: The Contis, an olive oil empire

Ethnographic Portrait: The Bonacores, from mixed farming to organic wine and agritourism

Chapter Summary

PART III -- Neo-Rural Flows: Lifestyle Migrants, Labor Migrants, and Volunteer Tourists

Chapter 5 -- The Reinvention of the Rural: Neo-Rural Lives and Distinction in Amiata 155

The Rural and the Neo-Rural: Mapping Landscapes of Desire and "Economies of Sentiment"

Describing Neo-Rurals and Rural Class Transformations

Constructing Neo-Rural Lives and Livelihoods: Urban-to-Rural Migration as Class and Life Project

Neo-Rural Realities in Amiata: Ethnographic Portraits

Ethnographic Portrait: Elsa, a young single woman working on and off farm

Ethnographic Portrait: Carlo, a middle-aged artist and buddhist practitioner

Ethnographic Portrait: Arturo, a middle-aged engineer and buddhist practitioner experimenting with self-sufficiency

Ethnographic Portrait: The Cerullos, a neo-rural family vineyard

Ethnographic Portrait: Davide, a young farmer-bachelor and agricultural wage laborer

Emerging Dimensions of Neo-Rurality

Dirt and Desire: Place Making, Belonging, and Affective Longing

Modernization and Masculinity

Young Rural Migrants and Farmers: "This isn't what I was expecting…"

Chapter 6 -- Agritourism and Emerging Class Trajectories: From Agricultural Production to Cultural Consumption 218

Neo-Rurals as Bricoleurs: Constructing Neo-Rural Subjects and a Consumable Countryside

Neo-Rural Styles of Agriturismo

Ethnographic Portrait: Antonio Silvestri, Farming and Friendship

Ethnographic Portrait: Gianna and Fulvio Martaci, Neo-Rural Marital Unity

Chapter 7 -- Divergent Realities: Agritourism Through Neo-Rural and Established Lenses 238

The Materiality of Agritourism: Aesthetics, Objects and Distinction

Gendering Farming and Agritourism: Marriage, Masculinity, and Social Status

Chapter 8 -- Mobile Global Workers: Transformations of Rural Labor 249

Volunteer Tourism, Organic Farming, and Back to the Land: WWOOF

Migrant Labor and Entrepreneurship in European Countrysides

Ethnographic Portrait: Olan

Rural Migrant Labor

Chapter Summary

PART IV -- Uncertain Futures

Chapter 9 -- Conclusion--Uncertain Futures: The Hegemonic Production of Neo-Rurality 270

References 281

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