The project “Pugliesi in the world

The inter-territorial and transnational cooperation project “Pugliesi in the world” (Axis IV, Measure 421, RDP Regione Puglia 2007-2013), set by a network of 19 Local Development Agencies (LAGs), including the Terre di Murgia LAG, in collaboration with the Pugliesi nel mondo Office – Welfare Department of the Puglia Region and the General Counsil of the Pugliesi nel Mondo, provides, among the other activities, the creation of a Regional Network of Emigration Labs.

Each Emigration Lab is aimed at promoting some initiatives whose purpose is to restore the historical and cultural bond between the local communities and their respective migratory phenomena, by building a bridge between the emigrant communities scattered across the world and their countries of origin.

Another aim of the Labs is to reconstruct the main aspects of the migration phenomena in each LAG’s territory through the collection of historical records. All the collected records have been digitized and are available on the Regional Network of Emigration Labs’ web portal.

The Terre di Murgia LAG’s territory

Terre di Murgia LAG (Local Action Group), founded in 1998, is a development agency made up of public and private partners, covering the municipalities of Altamura and Santeramo in Colle, located in the High Murge hills, in the Province of Bari, with a population of 110,000 inhabitants. This extensive plateau is marked by the presence of calcareous soil, rugged outcrops and karst phenomena. They generated sinkholes, caves and dolines, which are the distinctive features of this territory. Its economy has been always based on pastoral farming and agriculture, in which the cultivation of cereals and legumes is preeminent. Until seven years ago, the economical activities were mostly focused on the production of upholstered furniture, a sector that in the last years has been severely hit by the worldwide economic crisis.

The migration phenomena in the territory of Terre di Murgia LAG

In the territory of Terre di Murgia LAG the migration phenomena reached its peak in the years immediately before and after the first world war. The migration flow was directed to the Americas (mainly to United States and Argentina), because of the presence of large expanses of uncultivated land and the great need of labour force. These immigrants settled definitively in the above mentioned host countries. Other countries of South America (Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay), were also affected by temporary migration, the so called “emigración golondrina”.

A second peak of migration occurred in the second half of the XX century, affecting the states of Central and Northern Europe: France, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany. The intention of the migrants was not to settle in these foreign countries, but to work there and save money in order to build a better future for themselves in their own countries.