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A Weaver's Tale of Life Gone Modern

Elizabeth Krause (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 304 pages
ISBN: 9780520258495
September 2009
$34.95, £28.00
Deftly bridging literary conventions, this compelling work exposes the cultural origins of a quiet revolution that occurred over the course of the twentieth century. Elizabeth Krause combines novelistic and ethnographic techniques to illuminate population dynamics that have raised alarm across Europe and the United States, and manifested, for example, in Italy's extremely low birthrate. But what actually motivates people to have fewer children? Krause turns to the evocative story of one woman, Emilia Raugei, who was born in a Tuscan hill town in 1920 and worked as a straw weaver in a rapidly globalizing economy, to better understand this question. Based on extensive fieldwork, including indepth conversations with Emilia herself, Krause draws on her rich and unconventional memories to create an engaging portrait of life in a rural village during Mussolini's rise to power-it is a tale of migration, love and loss, political turmoil, and the struggle to make a living during hard times. Giving voice to a largely silent history that is at once local and global, Unraveled: A Weaver's Tale of Life Gone Modern will challenge us to find innovative approaches to understanding the transformative shift to a modern way of life.
List of Illustrations
Cast of Characters

Part I: History Imagined

1. Postcards
2. Abandoned
3. Telling Time
4. Fascist Folk
5. Giotto's Circle
6. Blood Relations
7. Chains
8. Rations
9. War Country
10. Resistance
11. American Chocolates
12. Only One

Part II: Memory Encountered

13. Neighbors
14. A Weaver's Tale
15. Progress
16. Singles' Sexuality
17. Amazing Grace
18. A Burning Question
19. Generation Gap
20. “Wet” and Hidden Economies

Elizabeth L. Krause is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of A Crisis of Births: Population Politics and Family-Making in Italy.
“Has the power and persuasiveness of a beautifully narrated story, one that can make you laugh and cry like life itself.”—European History Qtly
“A thought-provoking and magnificently crafted piece of work. . . . [Krause’s] narrative is both descriptive and hauntingly alive.”—Lauren E. Forcucci H-Net Reviews
"In this innovative and groundbreaking work, Betsy Krause artfully and seamlessly combines fiction, memoir, and ethnography into a compelling historical account of social life in rural Tuscany. Through her luminous prose and multiple narrative voices, Krause brings to life not only the political and economic trials and tribulations of social life in the Italian countryside, but also the ethical and representational burdens of transforming these often turbulent tales into evocative stories. Through her compelling and exceedingly well-written narratives, un-dramatic family episodes become dramatic, ordinary social lives become extraordinary, and the reader, swept into the unraveled universe of Unraveled, is wondrously transported across a portal into brave new world of ethnographic representation."—Paul Stoller, author of The Power of the Between: An Anthropological Odyssey

"In this brilliantly conceived and deeply humane book, Elizabeth Krause delves into a transformation that has changed the lives of ordinary Italian women and men in the twentieth century: the onset of the 'quiet revolution,' the transition from large- to small-size families. She approaches this change at the micro-historical level with grace and sophistication, but also tells us eloquently and honestly about her own encounter with the people whose life stories she has woven into her narrative. This book is a must-read not only for whoever is looking for the actual experiences behind what gets usually labeled—in alarmist terms—as the 'problem of low birth rates,' but also for whoever is in search of new ways of communicating the ethnographic experience."—Silvana Patriarca, author of Numbers and Nationhood: Writing Statistics in Nineteenth-Century Italy

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