Natalism and nationalism: The political economy of love, labor, and low fertility in central Italy
AuthorKrause, Elizabeth Louise
AdvisorAlonso, Ana M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the cultural politics of family-making in Italy, where women in the 1990s reached record-low fertility rates. Gender, kinship, ethnicity, race and nationalism have become foci of social and individual conflicts in the context of Italian reproductive patterns. This interdisciplinary project, based on 22 months of anthropological fieldwork, explores the effects of this demographic transition on the everyday lives, emotions, memories and family-making practices of women and men in one historic central Italian comune (county) in the Province of Prato. Located in a rural-industrial region of Tuscany, individuals there recount the shift from a peasant agricultural economy based on sharecropping and straw weaving to an urban industrial economy based on rag regeneration and textile production, and link this to the ongoing "crisis" in the patriarchal family. It examines relations between productive and reproductive labor from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, and offers a historical corrective to scholarship on globalization. Integrating methods from sociocultural, linguistic and historical anthropology, this ethnography contributes to the understanding of fertility decline in a way that analyses of aggregate statistics alone cannot: namely, it reveals how ideologies about class and gender create social identities that lead couples to make small families. Influenced by feminist anthropology and political-economic approaches, the project places attention on power relations associated with old and new meanings of domicile labor, social space, marriage, patriarchy as well as parenting; a persistently intense role of motherhood is connected to the "culture of responsibility." Discourse analysis is used to examine demography narratives, which depict the very low birthrate as "irrational" and as a "problem." In the context of immigration into Europe, such scientific authority enables elite racism and sneaky pronatalism. Hence, this research participates in the movement of scholars committed to critical population studies and, as such, adds much-needed depth to global debates about changing family dynamics, population politics and women's status.
Degree ProgramGraduate College