Albania: Coastal villages of the gods

?The poverty of the culture is one of the crucial aspects of the culture of poverty, adding emptiness to abundant suffering: it?s easier to cure poverty than to uproot the culture of poverty.? This reflection has guided a research-intervention in one of the poorest areas of Europe, the villages on the promontory of Cape Rodon, named after the Illyrian divinity. The coastal area has long been isolated because of its strategic importance, and has become economically and culturally poorer while suffering all the most degenerate effects of modernization like consumerism and individualism. The research project was initiated by Gianfranco Iacuzzi SJ, the former pastor of the area, and conducted by Luigi Za, a sociologist from the Italian University of Lecce. Two years of research involved nearly all the families of the villages, to encourage development and community responsibility. The resulting book, ?The Villages of the god Rodon,? does not simply record the immediate social and economic needs and their historical causes (the feudal oppression lasting centuries and the failed collectivization of the lands, imposed by the Communist regime 1945-1991), but also examines cultural models and psychological attitudes. Findings include a weak historical memory, the lack of any identity with the State, and uncertainty about future prospects. The rupture of isolation is crucial, but must go along with an integrated development project, otherwise the fragile social fabric will tear even more and cause mass emigration from places whose natural beauty offers such great potential. [HL11003]