skip to primary navigationskip to content

Carolyn Smith

Research Interests

Venice is a city steeped in history but which, at present, has a precarious future; existing in continual tension between forging an existence in the modern world and meeting the needs of the global tourist appetite.  The city presents a vital prototype for an alternative vision of the future as the ultimate example of a city built to a human scale and not subject to the use of cars.  Venice is the paradigm of both the historic and the modern city, forcing us to consider not only historic cities, but what a city really is: what it means to its citizens, and what its citizens mean to it.  While the romantic notion of Death In Venice has gripped the global imagination since the nineteenth century, contemporary depopulation poses a very real threat to this celebrity city.  The current resident population is less than a third of the 1951 populace; at less than 55,000 it is significantly less than the population following the devastating plague of 1630.  Residents are forced to leave the centro storico for the mainland, pushed out by soaring rent prices, the high cost of living, and the tourism monoculture which simultaneously sustains and destroys the city.  UNESCO’s description of depopulation as a “macro emergency” is not an overstatement: at present more than 2.6 residents leave the centro storico every day.

Key Publications