After a prolonged period of depopulation, the Alps are now experiencing a widespread process of repopulation. But how new is such a “new peopling”? Does it represent an unprecedented departure from the past? A long-time historical perspective reminds us that nobody was born a mountaineer and that until the end of the 16th century substantial population movements to and within the Alpine space were made possible by the absence of restrictions on the settlement of newcomers. Such a realization helps us to look at present-day immigration with different eyes. Historical evidence also shows, however, that political and demographic factors made the 17th century a turning-point after which the settlement of new inhabitants was discouraged and immigrants’ rights were curbed. Although Alpine communities were never hermetically closed, until recent times mining towns and tourist resorts were the only high-altitude localities to experience flows of immigrants of some significance. Cases of immigration stimulated in the past by mining and, later, by tourism are examined (with special reference to the two Walser colonies of Alagna Valsesia and Macugnaga) in order to pinpoint differences and similarities with current instances of immigration. This comparison suggests that relationships between people of ancient local descent and newcomers are bound to be delicate and that a question, in particular, tends to arise: should the arrival of new inhabitants be seen as a panacea and a source of cultural innovation for largely depopulated areas, or rather as a threat to local languages and cultures? We argue that the “new peopling” of the Alps should not be considered a priori as a threat nor as an enrichment, and that negotiations between the autochthonous populations and migrants should be studied in-depth and with close attention to the local contexts.

Negoziare culture, lingue e diritti. I nuovi scenari del "ripopolamento alpino"

Andrea Membretti;Pier Paolo Viazzo
2019

Abstract

After a prolonged period of depopulation, the Alps are now experiencing a widespread process of repopulation. But how new is such a “new peopling”? Does it represent an unprecedented departure from the past? A long-time historical perspective reminds us that nobody was born a mountaineer and that until the end of the 16th century substantial population movements to and within the Alpine space were made possible by the absence of restrictions on the settlement of newcomers. Such a realization helps us to look at present-day immigration with different eyes. Historical evidence also shows, however, that political and demographic factors made the 17th century a turning-point after which the settlement of new inhabitants was discouraged and immigrants’ rights were curbed. Although Alpine communities were never hermetically closed, until recent times mining towns and tourist resorts were the only high-altitude localities to experience flows of immigrants of some significance. Cases of immigration stimulated in the past by mining and, later, by tourism are examined (with special reference to the two Walser colonies of Alagna Valsesia and Macugnaga) in order to pinpoint differences and similarities with current instances of immigration. This comparison suggests that relationships between people of ancient local descent and newcomers are bound to be delicate and that a question, in particular, tends to arise: should the arrival of new inhabitants be seen as a panacea and a source of cultural innovation for largely depopulated areas, or rather as a threat to local languages and cultures? We argue that the “new peopling” of the Alps should not be considered a priori as a threat nor as an enrichment, and that negotiations between the autochthonous populations and migrants should be studied in-depth and with close attention to the local contexts.
Lingue e migranti nell'area alpina e subalpina occidentale
Edizioni dell'Orso
Lingua, cultura, territorio
70
19
35
978-88-6274-988-6
Alpine repopulation, linguistic minorities, Walser, diffuse ethnicity, negotiation
Andrea Membretti; Pier Paolo Viazzo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1726110
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