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A Venetian Island: Environment, History and Change in Burano

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Volume 8

New Directions in Anthropology

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A Venetian Island

Environment, History and Change in Burano

Lidia Sciama

272 pages, 36 figures, 4 maps, 11 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-920-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (June 2003)

ISBN  978-1-84545-156-1 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (December 2005)

eISBN 978-1-78238-614-8 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…an absorbing study…[that] opens up fascinating potential for comparative analysis.”  ·  JRAI

"…a significant contribution to the anthropology of the lagoon, previously not studied in English-language anthropology. The careful and fascinating account of lace-making is also an important contribution to the study of craft and skill, particularly gendered skill that remains underdeveloped in the English-language anthropology of Italy and indeed of Europe. More broadly, this book successfully offers a poignant portrait of a tiny community that is at once proud of its unique skills and achievements, and dismayed and humiliated by its continuing exclusion from the wealth and power of the city, with "a deep-rooted sense of [its] own marginality"   ·  H-Environment

"The work has qualities that could make it a model for anthropologists dissatisfied with the attempt to create an 'urban anthropology' but unwilling to continue the traditional obsession with remote communities."   ·  Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University


Since the extensive floods of 1966, inhabitants of Venice's laguna areas have come to share in, and reflect upon, concerns over pressing environmental problems. Evidence of damage caused by industrial pollution has contributed to the need to recover a common culture and establish a sense of continuity with "truly Venetian traditions."

Based on ethnographic and archival data, this in-depth study of the Venetian island of Burano shows how its inhabitants develop their sense of a distinct identity on the basis of their notions of gender, honor and kinship relations, their common memories, their knowledge and love of their environment and their special skills in fishing and lace making.

Lidia Sciama is a former Director of the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research on Women, University of Oxford, where she is currently a Research Associate.

Subject: Environmental Studies (General) Anthropology (General) Gender Studies and Sexuality
Area: Southern Europe


List of Illustrations

Chapter 1. Burano, Venice and The Lagoon

  • Burano
  • The Fieldwork
  • Burano’s Population and the Politics of Housing
  • Proposals for Restoration

Chapter 2. A Sense of History

  • Burano’s Fishermen as Comic Stereotypes in Renaissance Drama
  • Vincenzo Coronelli’s Isolario and Flaminio Corner’s Ecclesiastical History
  • The O-Tai-Tans of the Lagoons
  • From Foreign Occupation to Internal Colonialism
  • Three Government Reports

Chapter 3. Religion and Social Change

Chapter 4. Kinship and Residence

  • Residence Kinship Terminology
  • Ritual Kinship
  • The Physical Bases of Kinship
  • Socialization, Gender and Change
  • A Concern with Endogamy
  • Names, Surnames and Nicknames

Chapter 5. Stratification

Chapter 6. Honour and Shame in Mediterranean Anthropology

  • Some British Anthropological views of Mediterranean Honour
  • The Notion of Shame: History and Translation
  • Uses of Vergogna in Contemporary Italian

Chapter 7. Burano’s Lace-Making: an Honourable Craft

  • The Making Present Conditions
  • The History
  • Lacemaking from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century
  • Social Structure and Poverty in Eighteenth Century Burano
  • From the Nineteenth Century to the Present
  • The Beginnings of Lace
  • Social Change and Fathers’ Authority

Chapter 8. Devolution from the Grass-roots: Local Interest against Ideology

  • The Chironomidi
  • The May 1990 Administrative Elections
  • Consigli di Quartiere
  • A Doctor’s Duties


Appendix 1: The Venetian Territory and its Population
Appendix 2: Law 16 April 1973. Interventions for the safeguard of Venice
Appendix 3: Census


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