Culture and Political Economy in Western Sicily by Jane Schneider

By Jane Schneider

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The first is that Sicily alternated between periods of relative independence and ser­ vitude. Independence was marked during the Greek period, before T H E RELATIONSHIP OF ANIMALS TO AGRICULTURE IN SICILY 27 the Punic wars, and again under Arab and Norman rule. The island was most dependent, subordinate to external centers of control, under the Romans, the Catalans, and the north Italians, and eventually as a peripheral part of a world-system the center of which was northern Europe. Throughout these dominations Sicily specialized as a producer of primary resources—animal products and, above all, wheat.

The east retained its integrity longer against the onslaught of colonial pressures and did not collapse before external demands until the late seventeenth century. The alternation in time between de­ pendency and autonomy, and differences between the eastern and western regions of the island, are central to an understanding of Si­ cily's agrarian economy, discussed in the following section. THE RELATIONSHIP OF ANIMALS TO AGRICULTURE IN SICILY Sicilian agriculture was (and is) characteristically Mediterranean.

Many new settlements were founded on undesirable land and with inadequate funding (Genuardi 1911: 46-47). None had the capacity to resist renewed pressure which, in the eighteenth century, came from northern Europe as well as the Mediterranean. Indeed, only four colonies were founded after 1700. On the contrary, several new settlements were abandoned, while those that survived became dormitory towns for nearby latifundia. Landlords, with the tacit consent of the central power, reneged on the contracts that were favorable to tenants.

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