Five Albanian Villages
From Firenze University Press Book
Antonio Laurìa, University of Florence
Valbona Flora, University of Florence
Kamela Guza, University of Florence
As in all European countries, also in Albania the small villages scattered throughout the territory have always been a cohesive force of cultural identity.
Although often they still preserve ancient traditions and a remarkable cultural heritage, their role was weakened over time. Due to emigration of the younger and more active inhabitants, often villages cease to be a living and productive world and slip into a state of abandonment: the forest advances and takes the place of agricultural land that is no longer cultivated; the transfer of social traditions and practices from one generation to another is in serious danger of being cut short.
In the Albanian villages, however, the general living conditions are often more difficult than anywhere else. Among factors that exacerbate the situation may be mentioned: the intense phenomenon of migration (an endemic evil in Albania), resumed with virulent intensity after the fall of the Communist regime, the faintness of the social, entrepreneurial and economic fabric, the low level of education of the inhabitants, the lack of adequate infrastructure and public services, the lack of organised forms of cooperation and solidarity, the submissive role of women, the lack of awareness regarding the value of the preserved cultural heritage, the difficulty for the inhabitants to play an ‘active’ role in protecting their land against external threats. Reversing this situation, facing these issues is not easy and needs time, forwardlooking policies, a vision of sustainable development and human, community, information, regulatory and financial resources. Such conditions do not seem to be available today.
In many Albanian villages — like those studied in this book — there is, however, a promising development potential related to the rich (tangible and intangible) cultural heritage upon which is possible to count in order to imagine a better future that needs to be written together with the local communities. Consistently with the Analysis Phase of the research, this book focuses on five villages: Bënjë, Leusë, and Kosinë in the Municipality of Përmet, Razëm in the Municipality of Malësi e Madhe, and Zvërnec, in the Municipality of Vlorë (see Fig. 0–2). These five villages are situated around the country from north to south.
Each of them expresses specific features, problems, potential and significance. Despite the variety of local situations, however, they also have some common features. For this reason, inevitably, some proposed actions are going to be similar or even identical in the different contexts being studied.
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