Lin felt disoriented. “All the Italians looked the same," she recalled.
April 17, 2018 12:33 PM   Subscribe

The Chinese Workers Who Assemble Designer Bags in Tuscany There was a note of jealousy to the Pratans’ complaints, as well as a reluctant respect for people who had beaten them at their own game. Elizabeth Krause, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has written about the changes in Prato. She told me, “While I was there, people would say to me, ‘Eravamo noi i cinesi’ ”—“We were the Chinese.”
posted by bq (5 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Roberto Saviano has described the Chinese angle in Camorra business interests in Campania; Milan has its own vibrant Chinatown, and other parts of Italy are seeing similar "sinoification" of roles previously held as significantly local - there's a beautiful movie, set in Chioggia, about this: Andrea Segre's Shun Li and the poet.

(These are Sara Lin's Desmo and J&C Pop Bag sites. We used to buy high quality knitwear at BP Studio, ten or so years ago...)
posted by progosk at 1:59 PM on April 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Here's a DW story about another local Italian economy reinvented by Zhejiang inventiveness (and influx), the new stonecutters of the Infernotto valley, in Piedmont: Chinese migration brings social change to Italy's Alps.

(Oh, and: Der Spiegel covered the Prato story twelve years ago - for some perspective...)
posted by progosk at 2:40 PM on April 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

In case anyone is thinking "Eh, I don't really care about high-fashion handbags or the details of Chinese immigration in Tuscany" (which I admit was my first reaction when I got the issue), let me assure you it's really, really well written and interesting and you'll find out more than you thought you would. And the reason it's so good is that it's by the excellent D. T. Max. Name the author, people! (The omission is especially unfortunate in this case because it would seem from the post that Elizabeth Krause wrote it.)
posted by languagehat at 6:03 AM on April 18, 2018 [6 favorites]

This piece struck me as a sort of extended meditation on the reality of globalization. It's not a goal. It's already real. It's here. It also sort of fleshes out the narrative that every culture has their own 'they took our jobs' sort of mentality. Interesting notes on craftsmanship and industry.
posted by Dillionaire at 7:02 AM on April 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I read this outside of the blue, but it helped explain the endless numbers of 'made in Italy' handbag shops -- each and every one staffed by Chinese salespeople -- that were all over Venice the last time I visited...
posted by jrochest at 11:24 PM on April 18, 2018

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