Following its successful organization of the first edition of the First Summer School of Anthropology, New Trends in Anthropology in Southern Europe (Martignano, 10-21 July 2005), the University of Lecce and Medius Terrae announce the Second Anthropology Summer School: Popular Religion in Southern Italy, Between Tradition and Revival, Lecce, July 9-17 2006.
The First International Summer School last year reached the number of 22 participants: scholars, graduate and undergraduate students from several countries. The event was a big success especially when thinking that it has been the first such in Italy. The aim of the School, named “New Trends in the Anthropology of Southern Europe” was to introduce complex social and cultural realities as they are, often deviant from schemes and models which have been long dominant in the so-called “anthropology of the Mediterranean”. I think that we actually reached the aim on two levels.
On the first level, the analytical, the intense discussion following the far-reaching theoretical introductions on the main topics taught us that there is still an urging need to deal with these regions of Europe in a critical manner. The main School topics included a theoretical introduction to the anthropology of Southern Europe (Jane and Peter Schneider), social networks and trust (Davide Torsello), museums and material culture (Anna Merendino and Eugenio Imbriani), religious festivals (Francesco Marano, Ferdinando Mirizzi), tarantism (Gianni Pizza) and migration (Dorothy Zinn). On the level of practice, at the end of the School all participants, struggling to understand the local ways of dealing with the everyday life, had a different story to tell and on which to reflect when back home. The School succeeded in bringing its guests close to the life of a southern Italian rural community and, more significantly, through its afternoon “field activities” in making apparent the often invisible thread between politics and culture. This speaks for the need to problematise the present situation of these regions, which, within a general panorama of national economic recession, are lagging much behind the more dynamic northern Italian regions. However, here culture and tradition are two of the key concepts as they explain one of the strategic ways in which Italian southerners manage to keep control of the reality. This is why anthropology is called to take up a strong position to clarify the dynamics of these strategies and their actual validity.
The Second Summer School
Southern Italy is one of the regions within Europe where religious practices and beliefs still play an important role in the process of local identity creation, the politics of the Catholic Church and the revival of historical tradition. Local communities regard the cult of their patron saints, rites and festivals as part of their own cultural heritage which distinguishes them from other communities. This explains the rich anthropological literature on popular religion, magic practices and healing therapies in the Italian south. The school is dedicated to scholars as well as graduate and undergraduate students with a particular interest in cultural and social anthropology, popular religion, Southern Italy and Mediterranean Europe in general. The aim of the school is to provide a multi-faceted picture of some aspects of religious practices and creeds in Southern Italy, their transformation over time and recent revival. The school will provide a unique opportunity to study southern Italian popular religion through theoretical lectures, guided visits, participation in a religious festival and interaction with local cultural activists. All these activities will take place in the beautiful environment of Lecce, a unique and rich example of Baroque art in Europe.
During their stay in Lecce the participants will be participate in theoretical and practical sessions exploring various aspects of southern Italian popular religion. The theoretical sessions will also include a general introduction to the topic, reference bibliographies, video presentations and descriptions of religious festivals. The practical sessions will illustrate the content of the lectures through guided tours to churches, religious festivals, documentaries and an afternoon visit to the studio of a papier-mâché artisan. The school program will also include a guided tour of Lecce, and a facultative excursion of Otranto. The language of the lectures and of the discussions will be English.
Religious festivals in Southern Italy: empirical and theoretical issues
(Herman Tak, University of Utrecht)
The cult of St. Paul through tarantism: identity policy or cultural revitalization?
(Giovanni Pizza, University of Perugia)
'This is a place where you come to suffer': Padre Pio, theodicy and sociodicy
(Christopher Mckevitt, King’s College London)
Magic and power in southern Italy. Women, the church and culture.
(Thomas Hauschild, University of Tübingen)
Passion pilgrimages in the Campania region: revival and exploitation.
(Vincenzo Esposito, University of Salerno)
Religion, politics and poetics of time-space in Sicily.
(Bernardino Palumbo, University of Messina)
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