The Embodiment of Cultural Capital in a Historic Italian Market

By Anne Schiller and Daniel Shattuck.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Florence, Italy’s Mercato Centrale and the open-air stands which surround it comprise a historic market in the historic center of a so-called “Museum City.” At the same time, the market is a dynamic field of social interaction that is becoming ever more culturally complex. In response to globalization and in the space of only a few decades the market has transformed from a condition of relative cultural homogeneity to one of striking heterogeneity. To work, shop, or live near the market today is to confront diversity on a continual basis. The arrival of large numbers of immigrant vendors over the past two decades has been a key factor in this change. In light of its transformation some stakeholders have sought to promote a new multicultural identity for the market. Others lament the decline of “florentine-ness” there. This paper draws upon the results of ethnographic observation and interviews to explore how some San Lorenzo vendors characterize different modalities of merchant comportment across subgroups. It examines how marketplace practices are both embedded in and affect local sociocultural forms. Merchant comportment is approached as a form of embodied cultural capital that figures importantly in ideas about marketplace order, disorder, and identity.

Keywords: Cultural Identities, Immigration, Social Change, Urban Marketplaces

Global Studies Journal, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 582.409KB).

Dr. Anne Schiller

Professor of Anthropology, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virgina, USA

Anne Schiller is Professor of Anthropology at George Mason University. Her teaching and research interests concern issues of cultural identity in Italy and Indonesia. Her studies have been supported by fellowships and grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and others.

Daniel Shattuck

Dept of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA

Daniel Shattuck is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of New Mexico. He has conducted field research in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala (2006) and Florence, Italy (2008, 2010). His dissertation research concerns the social networks and migration patterns of Latin American immigrants working in the San Lorenzo Market.


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