Reconsidering the Mediterranean ‘agro-town’ model and escaping a vision of an ‘unchanging’ Italian South

Curtis, Dan

The Mediterranean landscape is today characterised by large concentrated settlements known as ‘agro-towns’, often melancholically depicted as grim and impoverished. Their persistence and proliferation is not yet well explained. In this article, by focusing on Southern Italy it is suggested that they can be associated with high economic polarisation consolidated over the long term. However, far from subscribing to a view of Southern Italian society as something that was completely unchanging from the medieval period right up to the twentieth century, it is argued that this continuity was only possible because dominant social groups used a number of very dynamic and flexible methods to maintain the status quo.