This book deals with two small villages located on the high alpine rim of northern Italy. It describes and explains the interplay between microcosm and macrocosm, between peasant settlement and an expanding market, between community and more inclusive polity. Every study has a history and develops its own characteristic problems and solutions. This chapter addresses the considerations that brought the study to the high alpine villages of St. Felix and Tret in the upper reaches of the valley of Anaunia, and details the manner in which the study was carried out. The two villages lie next to each other, but are separated by provincial boundaries: German-speaking St. Felix today forms part of the Italian Province of Bozen or Bolzano, officially designated as Alto Adige or Tiroler Etschland; Romance-speaking Tret, its neighbor, belongs to the Province of Trento or Trentino.
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