Of Cows, Cheese and Culture: Identity in the Italian Alps
Anthropologist Cristina Grasseni's study focuses on the relationship between locality, identity and skill using the example of a valley in the Italian Alps. Grasseni aims to shed new light on the idea of the local, and on how agencies constitute locality, landscape and, consequently, local practice and identities. In using the terms ‘skilled vision’ and ‘skilled practice’, Grasseni highlights the bounds of senses which characterise one’s lived experience of place, identity and belonging – methods borrowed from the anthropology of vision. Grasseni’s thesis is that the mechanisation of dairy farming and the commercialisation of cheese as a traditional local product entail not only a transformation of production techniques, but also the acquisition of new skills in managing one’s image. Grasseni’s study provides deep insights into everyday life in the Italian Alps, but fails to fully address the impact of the mountain range itself, which is not only a backdrop but also an ‘action space’.
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