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Tarantism Revisited. A collaborative crossmedia project on performance, cultural heritage and popular religion

English title Tarantism Revisited. A collaborative crossmedia project on performance, cultural heritage and popular religion
Applicant Schäuble Michaela
Number 171621
Funding scheme Agora
Research institution Institut für Sozialanthropologie Philosophisch-historische Fakultät Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Ethnology
Start/End 01.01.2018 - 31.10.2021
Approved amount 174'582.00
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Keywords (7)

music, dance and performance; crossmedia formats; cultural heritage; re-enactment; collaborative research; gender; popular religion

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Als Tarantismus wird ein italienischer Besessenheitskult bezeichnet bei dem die Betroffenen - zumeist Frauen - von körperlichen Anfällen gepackt werden. In der lokalen Vorstellung wird dieser Zustand durch den Biss einer Spinne verursacht, deren Gift nur durch den ekstatischen Tanz der Tarantella aus dem Körper getrieben werden kann.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojektes

Das Projekt spürt den vielfältigen Facetten eines Phänomens nach, das seit mindestens 500 Jahren als endemisch für Süditalien betrachtet werden kann und gegenwärtig eine erhebliche Revitalisierung und Popularisierung erfährt. In den letzten Jahrzehnten haben sich sowohl der Tarantismus als auch die damit verbundene Pizzicata-Musik zu einem wesentlichen Bestandteil der lokalen Kultur Apuliens entwickelt, das zur Konstruktion einer neuen, neo-traditionalen lokalen Identität beigetragen hat. Ausgehend von den Schriften des italienischen Religionsethnologen Ernesto de Martinos ebenso wie auf den Filmen, Fotografien und Tondokumenten, die im wissenschaftlichen und künstlerischen Umfeld einer ›Expedition‹ entstanden sind, die den Ethnologen in den 1950er Jahren in den Süden seines Heimatlandes führten, untersucht das Projekt den besonderen Einfluss der ikonischen Bilder auf die Art und Weise, wie der Tarantismus gegenwärtig in der Region und darüberhinaus re­präsentiert und wahrgenommen wird. Um die komplexe Geschichte und aktuelle Bedeutung des Tarantismus zwischen touristischem Spektakel und politisierter Folklore, kulturellem Erbe, weiblicher Ermächtigung und religiöser Praktik zu erfassen, setzen wir ein crossmediales Projekt um, das in Kollaboration mit lokalen Performer*innen, Musiker*­innen und Aktivist*innen entsteht und auf drei Ebenen verläuft: der Realisation eines 60-minütigen Dokumentarfilms und ergänzender 360° Videos; beide Formate tragen zu einer interaktiven, multimedialen Website mit historischen und zeitgenössischen Foto­grafien, erläuternden Texte, kurzen Videos, Klangexperimenten, Interviewausschnitten und Beispielen von Tarantella bei.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Der Fokus des Projekts liegt auf den performativen Aspekten des Taran­tis­mus als politisiertem multimedialem Ereignis, sowie als kulturelle und ökonomische Res­sour­ce. Darüberhinaus möchten wir die Aufmerksamkeit auf die kulturellen Dynamiken populärer religiöser Praktiken lenken, die gegenwärtig vielerorts neu entdeckt, wiederbelebt und mit neuen Bedeutungen versehen werden und auf diese Weise Traditionen und kulturelle Identitäten gestalten und mobilisieren.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 20.11.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Cineteca Bologna Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
UNESCO Club Galatina Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Dorothy Zinn United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
RAI Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Jasmine Pisapia United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Archivio Arturo Zavattini Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Chiara Samugheo Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Thomas Allenbach/Kino Rex Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Ulrich van Loyen Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Archivio Ando Gilardi Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Focal - Stiftung Weiterbildung Film und Audiovision Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Audiovisuelle Kommission der Schweizer Ethnologischen Gesellschaft Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Archivio Franco Pinna Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Zentrum Paul Klee Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari (Museo delle Civiltà - Museo delle arti e tradizion Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Studio Carmen Strzelecki Germany (Europe)
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
L'Associazione Internazionale Ernesto de Martino Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Andres Veiel Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions (Dis)Entangling Spider Dances International 2021
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Performing and Re-enacting Lament in the Mediterranean: Ritual Mourning and the Migration of Images International 2021
Talks/events/exhibitions Rintracciare il tarantismo: gestic thinking and the filmic, site-specific exploration of a multifac International 2021
Talks/events/exhibitions Das ethnographische Selbst als Positionierung und Werkzeug: Forschen, Erzählen und Reflektieren German-speaking Switzerland 2021
Media relations: radio, television Der Kreis - Mehr als nur eine Form Bayrischer Rundfunk International 2021
Talks/events/exhibitions Essayistischer Dokumentarfilm - ein Arbeitsbericht International 2021
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Michaela schäuble, with and without a camera Performance: Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge German-speaking Switzerland 2021
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Rethinking New Media and Mediterranean Publics International 2021
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Rethinking the Mediterranean International 2021
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Review of the New Gospel Culanth International 2021
Other activities Flucht - Tarantismo: Odyssey Of An Italian Ritual German-speaking Switzerland 2020
Video/Film Practices and Performances in the Mediterranean German-speaking Switzerland 2020
Other activities Trancedisciplinarity? Transgressing Global Realities German-speaking Switzerland 2020
Media relations: print media, online media From Shame to pride Horizons - The Swiss Research Magazin German-speaking Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland 2020
Talks/events/exhibitions Crisis and Communitas in Southern Italian Tarantism German-speaking Switzerland 2019
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Ecstasy: A review of two recent exhibitions on consciousness-expanding experience Focaalblog International 2019
Talks/events/exhibitions Medialisierung eines süditalienischen Trancekultes International 2019
Video/Film Tarantismus German-speaking Switzerland 2019
Talks/events/exhibitions Tarantismus - Tanzwahn German-speaking Switzerland 2019
Talks/events/exhibitions Experimental ethnographic film and the Mediterranean Museum International 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Maestro Gigis Tochter Anthroblog German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Talks/events/exhibitions Reenactment and Realist Representation as Ethnographic Approaches International 2018
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Visual Anthropology International 2018

Awards

Title Year
SNF Scientific Image Competition, Distinction 2019

Abstract

"Tarantism Revisited" builds on current research on the remnants and revival of popular religious practices and aims at exploring contemporary cultural and religious dynamics. Focusing on the ethnographic example of tarantism - an affliction supposedly caused by the bite of the tarantula spider, which is cured through music and exorcist trance-dancing during the feast of Saints Peter and Paul - the proposed communication project traces the multiple facets of a phenomenon that has been endemic to Southern Italy for at least five hundred years yet currently experiences an unprecedented revival and growth in popularity. In the past decade, tarantism and pizzicata music have become a crucial element of local popular culture in Apulia which not only attracts ten thousands of tourists from Italy and abroad to large-scale festivals each year, but has also become part of the transnational world music scene, thus contributing to the construction of a new, neo-traditional local identity. Moreover, the ‘performance’ of tarantism has traditionally been interpreted as expression and potential betterment of the marginalised, particularly as a form of agency for unprivileged women. To better grasp and convey to a broader audience the complex history and present mobilisation of tarantism as a tourist spectacle and politicised site of folklore, cultural heritage and female empowerment, we propose a cossmedia project with three interlinked activities: the realisation of a 60-minute documentary film and complementary 360° videos, both of which formats will culminate in and contribute to an interactive multimedia website (comprising historic and contemporary photographs, explanatory texts, short video clips, sound pieces, interview excerpts and samples of tarantella music). Our central aim is to bring to the general public an anthropological perspective on contemporary religious revival and the politicised construction and performance of cultural heritage using innovative and collaborative media formats.Anthropologist Ernesto De Martino (1908-1965) was the first to study the socio-political implications of the phenomenon in his native Italy in the early 1950s and the uniquely rich historic footage that exists of tarantism today - including 16mm films, hundreds of photographs and sound documents - is a legacy of his ethnographic ‘expeditions’. Today, the UNESCO Club Galatina attempts to inscribe tarantism in the list of intangible cultural heritage; to this end expressions of the affliction are skilfully re-enacted at the site of the ‘authentic’ performances in the Apulian town of Galatina with apparent references to the audio-visual accounts (which were in part already reconstructed for the cameras) recorded in the 1950s and thereafter. In our project - in collaboration with local performers, musicians, and activists - we primarily focus on the performance aspects of tarantism, thus highlighting its role as politicised multimedia event along with its importance as cultural and economic resource in the region. Furthermore, we attempt to create awareness for the fact that religious traditions are currently not per se disappearing into insignificance, but, quite to the contrary, are re-discovered, revived, and filled with new meanings in many places. With specific reference to the example of Apulian tarantism, we also intend to foster a better understanding of how tradition, heritage and cultural identity are presently created and mobilised through religious performances. The project is theoretically as well as methodologically well-grounded thanks to the years of experience and cooperation of our research team and our previous involvement in science communication and filmmaking.
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