Born to mixed parents (Italian and English) in Palermo, Sicily, Italy, I lived there until 2004. As an undergraduate I studied Classics, but my interest was quickly drawn towards anthropology, probably as a result of the constant crossing of cultural boundaries I experienced while growing up. So my BA dissertation ended up being entitled: 'Rethinking culture: Dan Sperber's proposal'.
During university in Italy I was involved in anti-globalisation movements, especially in a study/direct action group called the 'Nonviolence Seminar'. Among others things I focused on arms export legislation, fair-trade, and the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. I took long train trips to Genoa for the 2001 G8 and to Florence for the first European Social Forum in 2002.
In 2004 I moved to London to study anthropology as a postgraduate. I did my MSc at University College in 'Anthropology and Ecology of Development'. My dissertation was based on fieldwork in the south-west of Uganda, around the Bwindi and Mgahinga conservation parks. I looked at the impacts of the parks' establishment on a group of former hunter-gatherers, the local Batwa, who were resettled. In 2005 I enrolled at Goldsmiths College for an Anthropology MRes. I completed my PhD in January 2011.
Although my direct involvement in grass-root resistance has diminished (as the academic workload has increased), I still stake part in public political actions. The most recent were those of 2009 Climate Camp, held in London, and the demonstrations against the 2009 G20, always in London.
Current academic interests:
Broadly, I am interested in alternatives to capitalism. From a disciplinary perspective, I work at the interface between economic and environmental anthropology, and on ways to reconnect (both theoretically but also materially) production with circulation and consumption. From an epistemological perspective, I am inspired by post-disciplinarity, complexity thinking and actor-network theory. Though I don’t claim these are – or should be – necessarily compatible.
My current research deals with ethical consumption, fair-trade retailing and organic agriculture in Palermo and north-western Sicily. I look at how alternative commodities such as fair-trade and organic ones are engaged with as part of everyday acts of social (re-)production, and at how workers involved in the alternative livelihood practices which provide such commodities build their identities through their labour. I explore the ways in which consumers are linked to workers and to third parties in Palermitan society, and how urban spaces and rural productive environments are woven into the networks that result from this linkage. Though I believe it is crucial to carry out anthropological research on grass-root strategies of resistance in advanced capitalist countries, I claim it is equally important to focus on areas that are somewhat at the margin of core regions.
I am luckily funded by the ESRC (award PTA-030-2006-00260) and by the Royal Anthropological Institute (Emslie Horniman Anthropological Scholarship Fund 2006).
Secondarily, I am interested in racism, especially xenophobia and homophobia in Italy, and in responses to it. I also have a long-standing interest in the theory of nonviolence.