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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10077/857

???metadata.dc.contributor???: Leone, Ugo
Title: DEVELOPMENT, THE “MEZZOGIORNO” AND SOUTHERN ATTITUDE
Abstract: Apparently, development, Southern Italy and cultural geography are not related to one another. One could argue that tackling the issues of development and Italian Mezzogiorno, in the context of cultural geography is not a proper argument. Nevertheless, anything, someway or another, can be a cultural issue; precisely, the issues connected with development and Southern Italy are certainly a 'cultural fact', which can be approached in different ways depending on the culture and the ideology one advocates. Therefore, these issues can perfectly fit the context of cultural geography; but before getting to the heart of the argument I would like to quote a question I found about 40 years ago in a book by Jean Poncet (Poncet, 1968 and 1970): “Is underdevelopment due entirely or partly to natural factors?". Certainly there is a straightforward coincidence between the socalled Third World countries and tropical and sub-tropical climate areas: only in a few cases underdevelopment reaches countries in the temperate areas. As Poncet wondered, should we believe that "the value of geographic determinism, which has been long rejected – and rightly so – is the main cause for the explanation of human factors?". In other words, should we believe that the underdevelopment of given countries is caused by climate, soil poverty, shortage of water and other natural resources? In order not to give simple deterministic interpretations and determine if underdevelopment depends on natural factors, we should firstly explain why the countries that today live in total technological, economic and social backwardness are those which were identified in the past with the whole mankind. Evidently, with this new historical element the answer is more complex and it cannot be simply solved with deterministic interpretations. In remote ages, tropical regions could be considered far more advanced than temperate areas today. Rural and then urban civilizations appeared firstly in Middle East, India, China, Andean and Central America: exactly the ones that are ruled by underdevelopment today. Mediterranean countries, for example, have been the real 'cradle' of Western civilization: Rome and Athens speak for themselves. But after the age of great discoveries, North-West Europe's economic boost and spirit of enterprise totally cut those countries out. As Pierre George (George, 1968) wrote, "they became lands of archaisms, both in Europe (Spain, Italian Mezzogiorno, Southern Balkan Peninsula), on Western Asian coast, and in Maghreb". That is, when a mainly rural civilization has become industrial or industrialized, the 'needs' have changed and the countries that were not able to meet them rapidly and efficiently have gone to the forefront of economic and social development. So, underdevelopment is "defined and acknowledged by the inability of its victims to exploit the natural environment in a modern way and to live in the same environment in the same conditions as before" (Poncet). Southern Italy is a valid example of what has just been mentioned: the Magna Graecia whose people were not able to exploit the natural environment in a different way; now they cannot keep living in this environment as they did two thousand years ago, in a world that has discovered a whole series of different ways of life and a range of different needs, either real or fictitious ones.
Is part of: Proceedings of the Conference THE CULTURAL TURN IN GEOGRAPHY, 18-20th of September 2003 - Gorizia Campus
Part V: Economical Trends and Cultural Environmental Chances
Appears in Collections:The cultural turn in geography

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