Located at a crossroads in the Mediterranean, the southern part of Italy has been embedded in long-distance networks since prehistory, while it also maintained distinctly local characteristics. The present-day regions of Calabria, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily have seen a range of transformative events, cultural contacts, migrations, and political and economic dynamics on supra-regional scale. These include the early arrival of Neolithic agriculturalists, Bronze Age overseas trade, Greek colonization, incorporation in the Roman Empire, incastellamento, feudal estates, and the unification of Italy. Beyond these large-scale historical cycles, however, communities in Southern Italy have developed their own strategies to manage their day-to-day survival, to deal with economic risks and natural resources, to stabilize internal cohesion and (inter-)regional connectivity, and to balance the effects of natural disasters, climate change, geographic marginalization, and broad political dynamics. Phenomena such as brigantism, festivals with a strong pagan character such as the tree festival of Alessandria del Carretto, and enduring Arbëreschë (Albanian-speaking) communities since the 15th century AD are expressions of such local resilience, adaptation, and identity construction.
This session aims to explore how human groups have inhabited Southern Italian landscapes since prehistory and how they have found practical strategies to deal with changing circumstances. We want to look beyond top-down explanations, and invite case studies of local solutions and community structures. We invite critical evaluations of theoretical concepts such as taskscapes, landscape niches, and micro-ecologies. We are interested in archaeological, ethnographic, linguistic, economic, historical and cultural heritage studies of all periods and all corners of Southern Italy, and look forward to an active, theoretically and empirically informed discussion about the construction and sustainability of Southern Italian communities.