Giulia Beltrametti, Roberta Cevasco, Anna Maria Stagno, Vittorio Tigrino

The Ambiguous Nature of the Commons. Shifting Meanings between Archives and Field Evidence (Upper Trebbia Valley, Liguria, 19th-21st Centuries)

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Keywords: Microhistorical perspective, Conflict, Archaeology of the commons, Historical ecology, Local resources.

This essay addresses the theme of the ambiguity of the commons by interweaving research methods and analytical tools from multiple disciplines. It focuses on a case study from the Ligurian Apennines featuring two communities engaged in a centuries-old dispute over ownership of collective resources. The authors examine clues to changes in the environmental resource management practices of woodlands and pastures, with particular attention to those concerning charcoal and hay production on common lands. Their aim is to identify changes in access rights, and thus in the organisation of local communities, by examining the relationships between the social actors and their environmental resources, in order to correlate the material evidence of the occupation, appropriation and use of common lands (fences, charcoal kilns, and wetlands, etc.) to variations in local ownership and usage practices, including those resulting from administrative reforms introduced by the central authorities.

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