Keywords: Common pool resources - local history - history of the commons - production of locality
Nowadays neo-institutionalism encounters a great success in historiography, and indeed provides new categories of analysis for the history of the commons. Nevertheless, the article calls into question the neo-institutional approach particularly by focusing on the local dimension of the social action in order to identify new subjects of investigation and new analytical tools for understanding and interpreting the management of the common resources. First, the article suggests the existence of a great number of social groups that operate in the Ancien Régime local politics and that are able to «produce locality» through ritual practices (customs) of resources' redistribution (commons). Then the article puts forward a different research hypothesis, alternative to the neo-institutional one: this theoretical proposal, advanced for the first time in Italy in the Nineties, encourages multidisciplinary research methods for the analysis of the modalities of use and activation of natural resources, in order to point out the fact that the commons are a social and local product.