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Crisis in the City of Gold: Emplacement, industry, and economic downturn in Valenza, Italy

FONTEFRANCESCO, MICHELE,FILIPPO (2012) Crisis in the City of Gold: Emplacement, industry, and economic downturn in Valenza, Italy. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis is an exploration of the effects that an Italian city and internationally known industrial district, Valenza, experienced during the downturn of its principal economy, jewellery production, between 2008 and 2010. The thesis asks how the relationship between a community and a form of economy is perceived, established and performed, and how a downturn can reverberate throughout this web of meanings and practices. In so doing, it contributes to the anthropological debates on Italy, flexible industrialisation and economic crises, and explores themes of disciplinary interest such as public rhetoric, emplacement, industry, crafts, unemployment, and precarisation.
In the first part of the thesis I show how the connections between Valenza and its jewellery industry appear through the widespread identity rhetoric (Chapter 1), the deep penetration of jewellery production into the urban fabric (Chapter 2), as well as in the goldsmiths’ way of understanding production, ‘artigianalità’ and entrepreneurship (Chapters 3 and 4). In the second part of the work, I show that the downturn led to a rise in unemployment and a worsening of work and economic conditions for individuals and firms that undermined the basis of the participation of the community in the business. On the one hand, the loss of their jobs obliged (ex-) goldsmiths to re-think and re-shape their world, by abandoning the practices, spaces and social networks associated with their previous work (Chapter 6). On the other hand, the worsening of economic conditions led to a disaggregation of the network of firms and a ruination of the industrial landscape forcing goldsmiths to question their economic model and its future (Chapter 7). More broadly, the downturn became an object of the discourse of the city and an object of knowledge of its community that led to challenge the identity rhetoric and start discussing futures of a city without gold (Chapter 8).

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:italy, anthropology, crisis, valenza, jewellery, goldsmith, sense of place, craftsmanship, gold, artisan, economy, industry
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Aug 2012 09:52

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