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Identity, heritage and creative research practice in Basilicata, southern Italy

Sonic ethnography explores the role of sound-making and listening practices in the formation of local identities in the southern Italian region of Basilicata. The book uses a combination of text, photography and sound recording to investigate soundful cultural performances such as tree rituals, carnivals, pilgrimages, events promoting cultural heritage and more informal musical performances. Its approach demonstrates how in the acoustic domain tradition is made and disrupted, power struggles take place and acoustic communities are momentarily brought together in shared temporality and space. This book underlines how an attention to sound-making, recording and listening practices can bring innovative contributions to the ethnography of an area that has been studied by Italian and foreign scholars since the 1950s. The approaches of the classic anthropological scholarship on the region have become one of the forces at play in a complex field where discourses on a traditional past, politics of heritage and transnational diasporic communities interact. The book’s argument is carried forward not just by textual means, but also through the inclusion of six ‘sound-chapters’, that is, compositions of sound recordings themed so as to interact with the topic of the corresponding textual chapter, and through a large number of colour photographs. Two methodological chapters, respectively about doing research in sound and on photo-ethnography, explain the authors’ approach to field research and to the making of the book.

The revival of Lucanian wheat festivals
Lorenzo Ferrarini

, 2018. Painter Vincenzo Blumetti at work on a mural based on one of Franco Pinna’s photographs. At the same time as these institutional and artistic attentions concentrate on the game of the sickle, though, the existence of wheat festivals is always in danger due to the loss of specialised knowledge connected with agricultural practices of the past. One of the paradoxes of heritagisation is that, while it generally attracts attention and resources on a cultural phenomenon, it often severs the last remaining links with its original social functions, and in doing

in Sonic ethnography
Listening to the Campanaccio of San Mauro Forte
Nicola Scaldaferri

occurrence over time of processes of heritagisation. In response to the primarily sonorous qualities of this event, listening has been a principal research method. In contrast to what usually happens in other rituals involving bells around the period of Carnival in Europe, in San Mauro the cowbells are not used to create a clash of chaotic clangs but rather a series of regular rhythmic sequences. The participants wear a costume but do not mask their faces. In existing research on festivals involving humans and animal bells, the role of face masks and of sonic chaos has

in Sonic ethnography
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Towards a sonic ethnography of the Maggio festival in Accettura
Lorenzo Ferrarini and Nicola Scaldaferri

the experiential dimension for the participants, which has been neglected because of the way an abstract symbolic interpretation has become officially institutionalised as a result of processes of heritagisation. The intersection between sound and the experiential dimension of the festival, we argue, remains the central aspect for the participants despite the increasing relevance of cultural tourism and heritage politics. By ‘sonic ethnography’ we refer to an approach to ethnographic fieldwork that puts sound at its centre, beyond its definition as ‘the sounded

in Sonic ethnography
Struggles for power over a festival soundscape
Lorenzo Ferrarini

’s role as soundscape manager makes it clear that the monopoly of the festival belongs to the Church. As the performers enter a pact of mutual non-aggression that avoids duels similar to that between the zampogna players at the Pollino sanctuary, their sounds become institutionalised. It is not by chance that in Episcopia forms of sonic devotion are present side by side with the heritagisation of cultural performances, evident for example in the ‘peasant’ uniforms of folkloric dancers with wooden sickles – an aspect totally absent in the Madonna del Pollino pilgrimage

in Sonic ethnography
Notes on developing a photo-ethnographic practice in Basilicata
Lorenzo Ferrarini

details such as some children and an overhead power line, through cropping and darkroom techniques, made this woman the icon of the ominous fame of the village of Colobraro that De Martino had contributed to amplifying on a national scale through his writing. This photograph can be encountered time and again across a variety of cultural initiatives throughout Basilicata, from institutional posters to theatre pieces ( image 7.2 ) to works of artists, where it seems to represent an ancestral identity to promote proudly. In the current processes of heritagisation that

in Sonic ethnography
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Lorenzo Ferrarini and Nicola Scaldaferri

which represents more than twice the number of permanent residents in the village ( image 0.3 ). A similar festival was started in 2012 in Albano di Lucania, another key destination of De Martino’s expeditions. This is explicitly entitled The Nights of Magic – a Journey in the Footsteps of De Martino . Since the early years of the twenty-first century, processes of ‘heritagisation’ of tradition (Harrison 2013 ; Walsh 1992 ), and in particular of its documentary traces in the form of audiovisual media, have become ever more frequent and visible in Basilicata. The

in Sonic ethnography
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Recorded memories and diasporic identity in the archive of Giuseppe Chiaffitella
Nicola Scaldaferri

, was in fact the last performance in its itinerant format, as a ritual in which the inhabitants took to the streets to reinforce their ties with the place, in the name of besa . The village, struck by poverty, was in the midst of different forms of emigration, this time towards Europe and northern Italy, and was abandoning many of its cultural practices. These would be recovered decades later, in decontextualised and spectacularised forms, in the frame of folkloric festivals with a nostalgic angle, as part of processes of heritagisation. A loyal companion In

in Sonic ethnography
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Jes Wienberg

, artefact and ancient monument, memory, site of memory and politics of memory, monument, monumentalise and memorial, museum, musealisation and museology, heritage, heritagisation, use of heritage, politics of heritage, and heritage process. Just as the terms are numerous, many reasons are quoted for studying, retelling, remembering, protecting, preserving, or using remains of the past. These reasons may be in the nature of arguments for a particular perspective, for the existence of an academic discipline, or for the activities of an institution: Why the disciplines of

in Heritopia
Open Access (free)
Jes Wienberg

, school, science, settlement, society, sustainable development, tourism, use, use of history, values, and world. And as has happened with “history”, “historicise”, and “historisation”, as well as with “museum”, “musealise”, and “musealisation”, new words have been formed from “heritage” – words that mark a process and suggest a new disciplinary designation: “heritagisation” and “heritology” (e.g. Walsh 1992 : 135ff; Sola 2005 ). The thesis according to which there has been an inflation in heritage largely rests on an impressionistic experience that calls for

in Heritopia