Recovered from Dust.Imagining a Future in Casale Monferrato after the Asbestos Disaster

Loher, David (13 December 2019). Recovered from Dust.Imagining a Future in Casale Monferrato after the Asbestos Disaster (Unpublished). In: La città. Antropologia applicata ai territori. VII SIAA Convengo. Ferrara. 12. - 14.12.2019.

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As many small towns in Northern Italy, Casale Monferrato’s economy was dominated by one single industry. Also known as la capitale del cimentosince the end of the 19thCentury, manycement corporations established their headquarters in or around the town. One of today’s worldwide giants in this business, Buzzi Unicem, still has its headquarter here and is a remainder of this industrial past. Yet Casale Monferrato was especially notorious for the asbestos factory Eternit S.p.A., which dominated the town’s fate for decades. It brought jobs, modest wealth, but also death to the city’s working class; the population was dependent from the jobsprovided by the factory, at the same time the asbestos production polluted the environment and destroyed the city’s future. With more than 3’000 asbestos-related deaths to this day, there is not a single family that has remained unaffected by the disaster. In a historical-anthropological perspective, this contribution draws on ethnographic fieldwork and archival research and explores how the different social actors have been dealing with the dilemma of this economic dependency of a particular industry that simultaneously destroys the town’s future. Reconstructing Casale Monferrato’s transformation from an economy without a future to a future without—or with an uncertain—economy allows to understand how the competing imaginations of a better future have shaped the social struggles of the different actors involved.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Loher, David


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




David Loher

Date Deposited:

27 May 2020 08:35

Last Modified:

27 May 2020 08:35

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Urban Anthropology, Labour, Social Struggles, Protest


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