3. The Reappropriation of the Past

Once the specter of World War II had abated, and while Griko speakers were ‘abandoning’ Griko, a second generation of philhellenists recast Griko activism with renewed enthusiasm. Prof. Salvatore Sicuro (1922–2014), [1] from Martano, represented the living memory of postwar Griko activism, as he personally engaged with the cause of Griko throughout his life. He worked as a schoolteacher and was a well-known cultore del Griko in the local scene and in Greece, where he was often invited to give talks on the topic of Griko at various Greek universities, as well as in Cyprus. I knew him by name but had never met him in person, so I looked up his telephone number and called him. I told him briefly about my research, and we agreed to meet at his apartment in the center of Martano the following Thursday afternoon. I had immediately noticed that he addressed me in Italian using the formal form of address—a practice not necessarily followed locally even when ‘strictly’ required—but I did not make much of it; I expected that once we actually met he would revert to informal speech, particularly given the generation gap between us. I was wrong. When he opened the door, he welcome me in with a very polite “Si accomodi, signorina” (Italian)—“Please follow me, Miss”—he continued that practice over several months of weekly Thursday afternoon appointments, a practice that showed not only his politeness, but also the value that he kept attributing to Italian as the language of ‘prestige’.
Entering his apartment, the smell of paper immediately and gently overwhelmed me: books, encyclopedias, leaflets, magazines, newspapers, pictures. The windows in the living room were high and wide. Though it was still daytime, the shutters were half closed. Prof. Sicuro was a tiny man, very polite and extremely well educated; his Italian was almost old-fashioned, his Modern Greek polished, his Griko very measured. I had the pleasure of appreciating personally his immense knowledge and intellectual curiosity during those months; but he got to the heart of my questions on that first meeting. He began to share his memories: “I recall that after the war, my uncle, Prof. Stomeo from Martano, and Prof. Cotardo from Castrignano started to travel to Greece. Together with Giannino Aprile, they reestablished contacts with Greece and invited professors from the University of Athens and Salonika,” he said adjusting his coppula (‘flat hat’), which he never removed. He was the nephew of Prof. Paolo Stomeo (1909–1987) from Martano, another distinguished Griko scholar who likewise is remembered with pride among activists. They collaborated, giving classes at the University of Lecce in which they compared MG to Griko. “My uncle graduated in Classics from the University of Florence and collaborated with Rohlfs,” Prof. Sicuro added with a hint of pride, “and Stomeo also founded the department of Modern Greek language and literature at the University of Lecce, where he was the chair of the department. In 1958, he was invited to talk about Palumbo by the Italian Institute of Culture in Athens; the following year the twinning between Calimera and the city of Athens was inaugurated, and after this many such twinnings and collaborations followed.”
Prof. Sicuro would navigate among his hundreds of books with remarkable facility, looking for this or that article he particularly wanted to show me. He handed me his notes for his lessons comparing Griko and MG (which I found enlightening), and added,
Prof. Angiolino Cotardo was a disciple of my uncle; he graduated in Balkan studies from the University Orientale of Naples with a thesis on Griko for which he was warmly praised by Rohlfs. At university he had learned Katharevousa, the official language of Greece, but that did not help him much to communicate. In reality when he traveled to Greece he had to resort to his Griko. Funny isn’t it? When he and my uncle started to travel to Greece they were mistaken for Cretans [the sound /k/ is pronounced /tʃ/ in both varieties].
He laughed discreetly; he must have realized that I could not stop looking around—I was fascinated by that room filled with memories. Perhaps thinking I was critical of our surroundings, he said, “I know, one day someone will put some order into this mess. Look, here there are some Linguaphon. This is how I learned dimotikì (MG), listening to these tapes—old technology now, but I wanted to learn Modern Greek. It was important for us to get to Greece, you know? In Italy nobody cared about Griko. By contrast, Greeks regarded us with great interest, no matter their political orientation, and they helped us.” Indeed, in their efforts to maintain the linguistic heritage of Griko, the second generation of philhellenists—mainly from Calimera and Martano, and to which Prof. Sicuro belongs—kept looking to Greece for recognition and support. They tried and succeeded to reestablish contacts with Greece, as he highlights. [2]
On July 4, 1960, an article written by Gino de Sanctis from Calimera—son of the philhellenist Brizio we met in Chapter 1—appeared in the national daily newspaper Il Messagero (The Messenger):
How amazed and moved my father and his friends and colleagues with him—the jdalgos of Apulian Hellenism—would have been if they could have attended the civic fest in Calimera a few days ago. I was there, and I was given room in the gallery of honor. Below me, in a newly planted garden, fresh with young shadows and flowerbeds, with oaks, willows and cypresses reflected in fountains and ponds, the entire population of the village sang in Griko—voices of old people and children, voices of women singing ‘fly, fly swallow’—a song that certainly will have lulled the dreams of my father as a boy and of his own father before him. The mayor emphatically spoke claiming [Greece as] the ‘second homeland’, and after him, an official of the Greek Embassy of Rome intervened. An Attic stele donated by the town hall of Athens to this small and remote Apulian village was inaugurated that day; around the funerary stele named after a fourth-century Athenian girl—a vague Patròclia—stood the bronze busts of Vito Domenico Palumbo, of my father, of Giuseppe Gabrieli, of Pasquale Lefons, the far-from-forgotten patrol of the Don Chisciotti of Hellenism.
Il Messaggero, April 1960
This is how Gino de Sanctis recalls the day that la stele—an Attic marble stone—was placed in the public gardens of Calimera (see Figure 15). Indeed, three years earlier, in 1957, Giannino Aprile (1918–1968), the mayor of the village, had sent a letter to the Mayor of Athens asking for “an architectonic remain, or at least one stone from the Acropolis as a symbol of the common origin and the ideal continuity of the relations.” [3] The mayor of Athens went along with his wish. The ‘gift’ (dating back to the fourth century BCE) had come from the National Museum of Athens: the symbolic nature of the funerary monument, which represents the embrace between a mother and her dead daughter—mother/Greece, daughter/Grecìa Salentina—points to the attention that Greece would start to pay to this enclave. In the 1980s the marble stone was located in an aedicule, and the following phrase was carved on its façade: “Zeni sù en ise ettù sti Kalimera,” “You are not a foreigner in Calimera.”
Figure 15
Figure 15: The Attic marble stone, Calimera. Credit: Daniele Coricciati
The activism of these intellectuals represents the ideal continuation of the activism initiated by Palumbo and his philhellenic circle; they indeed adopted the same modus operandi, writing linguistic contributions on the topic and continuing to preserve the ‘oral tradition.’ These cultori del griko, like their predecessors, had been educated in the most active centers of Italian culture, and effectively continued their legacy. Their discourse is permeated with references to the glorious Hellenic past, and to Greece as the ‘motherland.’ They equally perpetuated the “performative contradiction” of the first generation of philhellenists, which highlighted the distance between their explicit language ideology and their communicative practices at large. Yet in so doing, they ironically contributed to building a sense of popular ‘skepticism’ that risked producing an effect opposite to that desired. [4] As we have seen, Griko speakers were undergoing a complex process though which they came to identify a language shift away from Griko as a way to get to ‘modernity’ and its promised advantages. They did not understand why they were asked to keep speaking Griko by those who did not practice what they preached.

Beyond Activism: Griko-Greek Encounters

Parlangeli (1960) had stressed how common Griko speakers were typically monoglot, insofar as they completely ignored Greek as the language of culture. The long period of coexistence and the integration of cultures and languages had washed away whatever account of their distant past they might have had. To use Giorgio’s words, “The elderly thought they were the ‘Greeks.’ They were called and called themselves Greci [‘Greeks’ in both Salentine and Italian], but many did not even know that Greece existed. When they met the Greeks elsewhere, or when the Greeks from Greece started traveling here, [the elderly] were surprised they spoke a language similar to theirs.”
Indeed, the elderly use the term Griko in Griko, but in the Romance dialect they translate it as Grecu or Greco—‘Greek,’ though by that they do not mean Greek of Greece. For instance, Franco (born in 1932) almost proudly pointed out, “My parents knew there was Greece, but that was it. My father could read; he even went to school for two years.” His wife Concetta joined the conversation and said, “My father could not read. Anyway, some Greeks must have stayed here if the language continued, right?” Franco replied, “Did they come and stay here? Did they die here? How can you go back in time? Who is here to tell us?” He stopped, sighed, and finally asked me, almost provocatively, “You study these things. Do you know?
The absence of historical speculation emerges clearly here. The emphasis given to being able to or unable to read brings us back to the divide between the intellectuals and the lay Griko speakers. If on one level it strengthens the authority given to those who can read—quite literally—it also seems to challenge that modus operandi. The past, and the knowledge that comes with it, is not something you read but something you live and experience. [5] What they relied on were their own memories and the memories of the people they knew. ’Ndata from Zollino told me,
We did not know anything. From the fields we could see the mountains of Greece [Epiro] when the day was clear. What have we got to do with Greece? I don’t know. Does it matter? They were Greeks, but we have always been here. I met the first Greek person in my life after the war, in the hospital of Scorrano. Now Greeks come here, but back then, who even saw them?
From my data it transpires that the image of Greece as the ‘motherland’ had no currency as such. ’Ndata refers to the first time she met a Greek person. This emphasizes that it is through personal encounter that the notion of ‘the Greeks’ enters a person’s experiential reality. Interestingly, if migration to the North of Italy was crucial for indexing ‘Italian’ as a language of ‘opportunities,’ migration abroad crucially allowed Griko speakers to come into direct contact with Greek migrants, and to realize that Griko allowed them to communicate—although admittedly on a limited level—with Greeks. My mother recalls one such instance. When my parents migrated to Switzerland in 1955, my mother ‘Ntina worked as a tailor in the textile industry in Zurich, and there she met Soula from the Peloponnese. On her first day at work, Soula could not speak or understand Swiss German. “I could see she was totally lost, so to help her I said in Griko, “Piako to velòni. Piako to dattilìdi”—“Take the needle, take the thimble”—and that’s when her face changed; it looked like those few words changed her world,” my mother often recalls proudly.
The identification of a few common—or at least mutually intelligible—keywords assured some basic level of communication. And, at times, familiar sounds can be enough to create a connection, especially when living in an ‘unfamiliar’ place, as Switzerland must have been for them. These encounters ultimately contributed to the ideology of Griko as a ‘resource,’ for it became apparent in a ‘firsthand’ sense to Griko speakers that Griko was not ‘just’ what they had come to internalize as a ‘bastard language’ and ‘the language of shame,’ but that it shared common origins with a national language.
The most characteristic example of this phenomenon is Cesarino De Santis (1920–1986) from Sternatia; he was a peasant, a migrant, and a poet, who spent forty-four years working in Germany and Northern Italy. During his years in Germany he got to know Greek migrants from Corfù, and through these encounters he started realizing the value of Griko. After returning to Sternatia, he spent the rest of his life engaging with the cause of Griko. He restlessly tried to encourage his co-villagers, old and young, to keep using the language—at the time his efforts were not fully appreciated locally, although his knowledge of Griko was highly valued by the linguist Rohlfs, who visited the De Santis’s house regularly. The value of Griko as a means to establish relationships was an additional reason to consider it a ‘resource’—a realization that in itself did not, however, stop the overall shift away from Griko, as we have seen. [6]

The Middle Revival: The Seventies and the Eighties

Reviewing linguistic and cultural activism effectively means tracing how locals have been redefining the meanings they attach to their language and to their past. What for analytical purposes I have referred to as the ‘first ideological revival’ of Griko stretches from the end of the nineteenth century to the mid-1970s; this was followed in the late 1970s and ’80s by the ‘middle revival,’ while the current one began in the 1990s. The distinction is clearly not merely temporal; I decided to adopt a diachronic approach because I was interested in understanding and analyzing the different sociocultural and political landscapes of each phase, and the shifting ideological structures upon which locals’ efforts to reevaluate, preserve, and/or promote Griko—and the past—were articulated.
Language activism and cultural revival emerged as a relevant social force in the mid-seventies, once locals had undergone the linguistic and existential shift discussed in the previous chapter; that is, upon fully embracing modernity and Italian. At this juncture, a group of young, educated local people initiated a process that once again subverted the state of things, promoting a reevaluation of the past, of what functioned as indexical of it, and articulating it as a defense of the language and its manifestations. This overall shift led cultural activists to repropose and thus enact yet another historicity; crucially in this case this movement was not linked to the Hellenic past, which the very Griko speakers could not identify with. The cultural activists of the middle revival instead reproposed a recent past linked to local practices; similar to elsewhere in Italy, they promoted a discourse aimed at legitimizing locality and its differences: the reevaluation of a past linked to the agricultural cosmology that Griko speakers had inhabited until not too long before. The ‘redemption of the past’ meant respecting local cultural specificities and its values, which were at risk of being erased through the ‘race’ to modernity.
The activities promoted by the cultural activists of the ‘middle revival’ were articulated on two quite separate fronts: the teaching of Griko, and the emergence of cultural associations engaged with the preservation of Griko and popular culture. The teaching of Griko dates back to the 1970s. At that time, Prof. Paolo Stomeo from Martano was an inspector at the Ministry of Education, while his disciple and follower Prof. Cotardo from Castrignano was a teacher in the primary school of the village. In the absence of legislative measures regarding minority languages at the national and regional levels, they requested and obtained an inspection of the local schools by the Italian Ministry of Education. This inspection assessed the conditions for teaching Griko in kindergarten and primary schools in the area, and the attendant lobbying resulted in the first law to safeguard Griko: Law 820 (enacted in 1971), which supported the teaching of Griko. However, such teaching was to be part of supplemental activities carried out in the context of after-school care (Nucita and Cotardo 1985:61–62); this factor highlights the different ‘appeal’ of the minority language and its ‘status’ as an undervalued subject in school. [7]
The teaching of Griko was conducted by Prof. Cotardo himself in the primary school of Castrignano. He developed his own method—known as the Cotardo Method—which consisted in teaching Griko and MG comparatively, providing a one-for-one translation. The positive evaluation by the Ministry of Education in 1976 brought about a new ministerial memorandum aimed at “the conservation of the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Salentine-Greek language” (Nucita 1997:13). This in reality refers to the experimental teaching of MG, and it therefore ‘presupposes’ knowledge of Griko rather than ‘promoting’ it; in other words, it considers Griko as a resource with which to learn MG. Indeed, we read:, “Recent studies … establish that the knowledge of Griko facilitates the learning of MG and this can facilitate the commercial and touristic exchanges with neighboring Greece” (Nucita 1997:94–96). Local activists effectively inverted the relation of Griko/MG by giving centrality to MG, which appeared to them as an ‘agent of renewal’ and a means to build relations. [8]
In the 1985 book Ten Years After: Language, Culture and Folklore in Grecìa Salentina, Prof. Cotardo and Prof. Ada Nucita—the latter being the principal of the Castrignano schools from 1979 to 2003—reflect upon the first decade of this experimental teaching program. Their words reveal how heavily they relied on ‘folklore,’ popular traditions and popular memory as a pedagogical method. This emerged clearly from my conversations with Prof. Nucita, who, after Cotardo’s death, continued to follow his method and engaged in Griko activism. She told me, “Prof. Cotardo would go around in the village with the school children and talk to the elderly, who would tell stories, anecdotes, proverbs, etc. Once back in the classroom, the terms collected would be put together. Field research was our method.” These ‘data’ would then be turned into dialogues and sketches, dramas and plays in Griko. The end of each school year was in fact celebrated with a theatrical performance in which the children were the ‘actors’ of the ‘Griko world’. Nucita clearly defined the aim of their experimental teaching: “Far from the pretension to revive the minority language at a social level, our aim was to render it an object of teaching, linking Griko, the language of our fathers, to a living language, Modern Greek” (Nucita 1997:28). [9] They state explicitly that their aim was not to ‘revive’ spoken Griko, while simultaneously making a claim to modern Greece as well as ancient Greece. [10]
Nucita (1997:14) hints at “widespread contrasts in public opinion” with regard to the experimental teaching of Griko, contrasts that she argues they had successfully laid to rest through their activities. She then stresses the popular positive reception their language teaching enjoyed, and the unconditional engagement and support of the children’s families and the wider community for their efforts. The analysis of the popular reception to the teaching of Griko provided by The Lecce Group (1979) complements, yet to some extent also contrasts with, this self-celebratory attitude. These researchers from the University of Lecce carried out a survey in Sternatia, and noted that the practical implementation of the classes had provoked unanimously negative reactions. The people interviewed expressed mistrust over the selection of teachers and their competence, and doubts as to the validity of their teaching method. The data provided in the survey indicates a general lack of expectation regarding the intervention of official institutions (the town hall or even the ministry of education) for the cause of Griko. The authors write, “There are those who suspect that the community of Sternatia did not embrace the teaching of Griko in school, because it is considered a subject in contrast to the traditional seriousness of education” (The Lecce Group 1979:170).
This last point is important: the diffidence in the popular response can be explained by bearing in mind that the teaching of Griko is articulated within an ‘institutional’ sphere (the school), whereas the movement of cultural associations is enacted explicitly and purposely outside it. Paraphrasing McDonald (1989), who refers to the case of Breton, schooling and Griko evidently do not mix easily. This skepticism towards language planning is an instance of ‘passive resistance of separation’; according to Jaffe (1999) who analyses the Corsican case, this is based on the local language ideology, which separates the meaning and value of the minority language from the official domains of the dominant language. This resistance thus defended the “alternative linguistic market associated with the minority language” (Jaffe 1999:160).
To be sure, the teaching of Griko was also criticized by teachers of non–Griko-speaking villages, who considered it “a romantic ambition to revive impossible past glories” (cited in Nucita and Cotardo 1985:103). Similarly, in an article that appeared in a local newspaper in July 1976, Prof. Rizzelli, a teacher from the village of Galatina, contests such teaching, calling it an imposition, “a new tool of torture for the new generations and of self-gratification for the learned advocates … It is absurd to expect to awaken the love for the language of [one’s] origins after centuries of brainwashing” (Rizelli 1976, cited in Nucita and Cotardo 1985:103). This is Prof. Cotardo’s reply to that article:
To teach the new generations how to know their own history, traditions, the language of their fathers, means to teach them how to fit in with the social environment with confidence … To know one’s own history means to free oneself from the centuries-long slavery and from being considered ‘inferior.’
Nucita and Cotardo 1985:103
One is reminded of de Martino’s concept of “inroads into history” and “the expansion of our own-self-consciousness in order to direct our actions” (de Martino 1941:12). For de Martino, self-consciousness is required to shape history, which is seen as the struggle for freedom. In our conversations, Prof. Nucita always stressed the importance of popular memory and the role of tales, songs, customs, and dances in building consciousness of the values of tradition and of local history. Popular culture and folklore were therefore not only conceptualized as the means to access the language, but crucially also as consciousness-raisers. This was the dominant discourse permeating the activity of cultural associations, which I now turn to discuss. Interestingly the centrality given to Modern Greek—and consequently to Modern Greece—that emerges in the experimental teaching of Griko is by and large absent during the first years of the associations; this was to develop during a second stage.

Beyond Griko: Cultural Associations and the Reproposal of Popular Traditions

The majority of the cultural associations were established in the second half of the 1970s, and tellingly all their names save one are in Griko. Most of these ‘historical’ associations have worked unceasingly to bring the issue of Griko to the fore, each of them focusing on different aspects. Among them Argalìo (‘Loom,’ Corigliano) privileged music; Chora-Ma (‘My Village,’ Sternatia Chora-ma, Sternatia) the ‘intellectual’ aspect, through book and art exhibitions; and Ghetonìa (‘Neighborhood,’ Calimera) editorial activities; whereas La Bottega (‘The Workshop,’ Zollino) and Glòssama (‘My Language,’ Martano) were more diverse and versatile in nature. [11] By reviewing the activities promoted at the time by these associations, it transpires that they were not aimed specifically at language practice or planning, nor were they restricted to ‘language’ as a monolithic entity. Their trait d’union was instead their renewed commitment to Griko, and the reevaluation of the past it indexed and the world it represented. To this end, their attempts mainly focused on documenting and ‘reviving’ popular traditions that had fallen into disuse. ‘Revival’ is, however, a term these activists do not typically use. Instead, the terms that dominate are recupero (recovery) and riproposta (literally ‘reproposal’). As we will see, the difference between them is not simply semantic.
I heard that Giovanni was around and I called him to catch up. I was looking forward to meeting with him since I never tire of listening to him recount tales of activism during the late 1970s and early ’80s; his personal contribution to the middle revival cannot be stressed enough, although his bright and far-seeing mind was not fully appreciated at the time. “Come over for dinner on Saturday! We’ll light the fire and eat something. What shall I prepare? Some wild vegetables?” How could I deny myself the pleasure? Food is always involved when meeting him, always locally produced—zero-mile food indeed. Giovanni from Zollino is more than a simple operatore culturale; socially and politically engaged, he has also invented groundbreaking novelties in the realm of what he calls ‘popular technologies’—his vocabulary is highly idiosyncratic. “I am an intermediate technologist, a technician of that technological know-how almost abandoned by the modern consumerist and destructive tendencies of the environment,” as he describes himself. In this capacity he has given his best, designing assisted pedal bicycles for instance, and inventing stoves that run on agro-industry waste products, as well as some ergonomic agricultural tools. Indeed, everyone knows him in the village as l’ inventore (the inventor). Even now, as he approaches his eighties, he keeps moving and is very difficult to pin down. It is hard to know whether he is living in the next village or has gone to another country to embark on yet another of his many projects. “OK, I will bring a bottle of red wine and some cheese. See you there, Uncle Giò,” I said, calling him by his self-assigned nickname.
We met on a chilly February night, and Giovanni hurriedly collected some wood to light the fire, chatting all the while: “At the time there was no sensibility towards traditions, as they were considered to be antiques to be overcome in order to enter with unfurled sails into modernity. I Passiùna tu Christù [The Passion of the Christ] it is just the emblematic example.” The reproposal of this tradition is indeed one of his most successful operazioni culturali (cultural operations/interventions), which he promoted as part of the association La Bottega del Teatro, based in Zollino. The Passion of the Christ is a form of popular theater in Griko, which narrates the death and resurrection of Christ, and used to be performed by local peasants during the week preceding Palm Sunday, and again on Easter Saturday. It is a tradition strongly held in the village of Zollino, and it was once widespread in most of the Griko-speaking villages. Considered to be one of the strongest cultural manifestations in Griko, it holds strong symbolic meaning as it represents a spring propitiatory and purifying rite (The Lecce Group 1977). It consists of sixty-six stanzas performed alternately by two singers accompanied by an accordionist or organ grinder. It used to be performed on the villages’ crossroads and squares, as well as on manor farms and tobacco farms. A third person would hold an olive branch or palm decorated with colorful ribbons, sacred images, and/or oranges—symbols of fertility. At the end of the performance, the singers would collect eggs or money in a basket and move on to the next crossroads or village. The tradition had fallen out of practice by the mid-1950s (see Figure 16).
Giovanni moved across the kitchen and, while turning the greens in the pot and filling the room with an intense smell of garlic, said, “It was the expression of the people—del popolo—which had been silenced during the post-war years. It was quite literally a tradition obstructed by the priest[s] and by local authorities in the name of modernity. Can you believe it?” His eyes still redden at this memory. He then adjusted his glasses, which normally rested on top of his head, and added, “When we decided to perform the Passion again, it had not been performed for over twenty years, so young people did not know about it. At that point, it was difficult for it to reemerge from below. It needed us.” [12]
Indeed, in the early 1980s, La Bottega approached Tommaso, a Griko speaker from Zollino, to be the new cantore, since his idiosyncratic voice resembled that of another performer who had died. He was to sing together with Antimino (whom you met in the previous chapter). I told Giovanni that incidentally the day before I had visited Antimino; he had been waiting for me to go and collect some lemons from his garden. “He sends you his love,” I said, adding that Antimino had rightly predicted that we would talk about him and the Passion. In reality, it is Antimino who does not miss any occasion to mention the topic! That morning he had added a detail, and recalled enthusiastically the time they performed in Bova Marina in Calabria in the early 1980s. “I started singing the Passion when I was fourteen years old. Then everything changed, everything stopped. Giovanni contacted me [in 1981] and since then I have been singing it every year with all my heart,” he said, before emphatically adding, “Even in mother’s womb I sang the Passion. Some people call me ‘the father of the Passion’ (O ciùri atti' Passiùna) [he laughs]. I’ll keep singing it until I die.”
Figure 16: The performance of I passiùna tu Christù. Credit: Daniele Coricciati
The reproposal of The Passion of the Christ was just one of many festivities that became the object of interest for the cultural activists of the middle revival. [13] Scratching his bald forehead, Giovanni added thoughtfully, “People were losing their traditions. They were losing themselves, their memory of themselves as a community, the sense of place where they created community. It was essential to feel part of the environment again, to go out to the fields, to respect the old rhythms of nature. This is why we choose those festivities linked to the time of the year, and to the place, the environment that gave it a meaning.” While searching for the salad he had meticulously prepared, Giovanni went on to recall, “Take La festa di San Rocco in Torrepaduli, for instance. It was not dead yet, but it was dying out. In the last few years, you would never see more than five or six tambourine players. We understood the values behind that practice, the very sense of the ronde.”
Here, Giovanni is referring to “The feast of Saint Rocco” in Torrepaduli, a small town near Ruffano. This feast was traditionally linked to the healing saint of plague, Saint Rocco, and to the agricultural market-fair held on the sixteenth of August. On that occasion, people from the nearby areas would arrive the day before and stay overnight to wait for the trade to begin and the first mass. In front of the sanctuary of Saint Rocco, locals would perform the danza delle spade (sword dance), also known as danza dei coltelli (dance of the knives), a performance that combines martial arts and dance, and is accompanied by the beat of tambourines. Danced in the form of a ronde (circles), it used to be performed with knives—or with the hand and fingers mimicking knives—in order to resolve conflicts that were typically either linked to disputes over women or family. [14]
By the end of the 1970s, the last remaining tambourine players were almost all elderly, and the celebration of the feast of Saint Rocco was indeed dying out. This dance belongs to the tradition of pizzica (literally ‘pinch’), the Salentine version of the tarantella (more on this later), which likewise is an index of the past that locals had internalized as a marker of their subalternity. With La Bottega, in 1982 Giovanni organized an event called Il ritorno a San Rocco (The Return to Saint Rocco), which was to have far-reaching effects lasting into contemporary times. For Giovanni, the festa di San Rocco indeed had a very specific meaning, as the dance in the ronde respected a choral rhythm, he argued. “This modality of relation that comes from the past reassured people and helped the community form and maintain its identity; otherwise we lose direction and get lost,” Giovanni kept repeating. The initiative involved identifying and approaching those remaining musicians and dancers in the surrounding villages, since there were only a few left and most of them did not even own a tambourine anymore. In another conversation, Uccio—another member of the association—told me that, together with Giovanni, he had bought about twenty-five tambourines, and had gone around distributing them to players.
Giovanni stood up all of a sudden and disappeared into the next room, to return with an old newspaper—a copy of il Quotidiano dating back to 1981 wherein the ethnomusicologist Diego Carpitella made his plea about the tambourine. The title read, “Il tamburello simbolo vivo di una civiltà. Non lasciatelo scomparire così.” (Italian: The tambourine is a living symbol of a civilization. Do not let it disappear this way). Giovanni had indeed traveled to Rome to meet him. Repeating himself, he said, “Something needed to be done; the tradition of the tambourine and pizzica was disappearing among the general indifference. It was also important that someone respected and passed on the message to keep it, to value it. They would not pay attention to me. They listened to Carpitella, though!”
Indeed, scholars have paid crucial attention to the phenomenon of tarantism—albeit with divergent results—attention that prompted Caroli (2009:259) to define Salento as an “ethnologized place.” The University of Lecce had even promoted a project on tarantism in 1981, by the title Il Ragno del Dio che danza (Italian: The Spider of the Dancing God) all geared toward a final performance, which, however, never took place. [15] Among the researchers and scholars involved were the ethnomusicologists Diego Carpitella and George Lapassade. “The rest is history,” Giovanni concluded, reflecting on the unpredictable repercussions that the middle revival was to have, even to the present (see Figure 17). Indeed, his own initiatives further launched the tambourine and pizzica, contributing to the ‘return of the pizzica’ and its contemporary revival. Five hours had passed since I arrived at his home. It was late. “Kalinitta, zio Giò”—“Good night, Uncle Giò,” I said teasing. “Sleep well, Manuela,” he replied smiling. [16]
Figure 17: Festa di San Rocco, Torre Paduli, one ronda. Credit: Theodoros Kargas
In reality, ethnomusicologists soon paid attention to the rich folk music repertoire that included pizzica. As early as the mid-1950s, Diego Carpitella and Alan Lomax had conducted a yearlong research on local lullabies, funeral laments such as moroloja (the Griko equivalent of what Greeks call miroloja), but also songs about work and the therapeutic music of tarantism (Carpitella 1986:79). Moreover, in 1959 the father of Italian anthropologist Ernesto de Martino had conducted fieldwork in Salento to investigate the phenomenon of tarantism, the spider (taranta) spirit possession cult in Salento. The Tarantate were women who claimed they had been bitten by a tarantula while working in the fields, and who were cured through the music of pizzica tarantata along with dance and color symbolism. [17] In his most famous book, La Terra del Rimorso (The Land of Remorse), de Martino detached tarantism from the interpretation that had prevailed in medical investigations since the Middle Ages. For him, it was not a hysterical mental disorder or an illness caused by the poison of the tarantula. Instead, he linked tarantism to female existential and social suffering, and regarded it as a manifestation of class and gender inequality. To use the words of Giovanni Pizza, de Martino’s book revealed “profound contradictions: the wounds of the war, the social suffering, the material poverty, emigration, [and] the authoritarian tendencies of the post-fascist democratic governments” (Pizza 2005:n.p.; see also Pizza 2015). The folk music repertoire was to play an important role in the dynamics of the middle revival, and eventually became central in the discursive management of the current revival, as we will see.

Reappropriating the Past

As in the case of La Bottega, so too the other cultural associations that emerged in the mid-1970s primarily engaged in reproposing—relaunching, as it were—local traditions that had fallen out of practice. Within the association named Argalìo (Loom), based in Corigliano, there operated—and to a lesser extent still does—a laboratory comprised of both elderly and young singers who focus on the reappropriation and revitalization of folk music. This is one indicator of the significant role played by music groups in the promotion of language. Moreover, the very name of the association is telling, since it set out symbolically to weave together the past and the present, the elderly and the young. [18] When I met Michele—the son of Luigi, a central figure of Argalìo—he proudly remarked on the organization’s achievements. Not only had the group become well known in Greece, but Michele stressed the contribution of the elderly members of the association to the studies of local and foreign scholars of folk music. [19] In particular, the association is linked to the riproposta of a tradition that had fallen out of practice, Le Strine (Salentine: The Gifts). A religious-pagan song sung during the collection of alms, its performance accompanied the arrival of the New Year. Traditionally, groups of musicians with tambourines and diatonic accordions would perform it by moving from masseria to masseria, from house to house, collecting mainly eggs and cheese as payment for their music making. Most likely it was an ancient pagan song of propitiation (which included the blessing of tools, plants, and animals) to which was subsequently added the tale of Jesus Christ’s birth.
Michele told me: “The original text is in Griko, and there is also a version in Salentine, although it is not a faithful translation. It was a song wishing good harvests, abundance, and good fortune to all people.” Indeed, it is a tradition strictly linked to the agricultural world, and it bears a strong resemblance to the Greek kàlanda. “Here in Salento and Grecìa Salentina, people had grown distant from their own traditions, so it was necessary to do something about it. It was time to express ourselves again through our traditions,” Michele concluded.
Donato, the founding father of the Chora-Ma association in Sternatia, similarly stressed, “At the time people did not realize their own ‘treasure’ and they were ashamed of Griko. We wanted to awaken them [my emphasis], to make them realize the importance of the language and their culture.” In their self-assigned function as consciousness raisers, the activists of the center were not restricted to the cause of Griko. When I met Donato, he was about to retire from his job as a librarian at the University of Lecce. He suggested I help him go through the numerous pictures of the events organized by the association over the years; it was the thirtieth anniversary of its founding. I therefore spent quite a few afternoons chatting with him while selecting pictures and crucially gaining an overall idea of the activities the center promoted.
For the exhibition, the white lime walls of the center were plastered with pictures of art exhibits of the most prominent Salentine contemporary artists, of music concerts, poetry competitions, and book presentations. There were also pictures of Panìri tu tirì (Griko: The cheese festival), which was organized to gather funds towards the restoration of a Byzantine church that was close to collapse, Saint Vito in Sternatia. I found particularly interesting the event La mostra delle cose perdute (the Exhibition of Lost Things), an exhibition of material culture that had been disregarded by locals (old craft tools, handlooms, iron beds, etc.) as an index of the past. The exhibit recreated each room of a traditional house. Donato proudly labeled it a success, and noted it had managed to sensitize people to the value of their material culture: “People wanted to get rid of all those things! Plastic was in vogue, you know? But they participated in the event and stopped throwing [their stuff] away. It was a marvelous exhibition,” he remarked.
Cultural activists belonging to the middle revival therefore centered their activities around a broader reevaluation of the past; indeed, their attempts focused on documenting and reproposing local traditions that had fallen out of practice. They promoted a reevaluation of all things past, including material culture, as we heard from Donato and from Giovanni above—this referred to all those objects that had been rejected in people’s efforts to adopt middle-class material culture at a time when only what was new was valued. The activists’ aim was therefore to reappropriate the past, and those cultural objects and manifestations that locals had internalized as being embarrassing, and as indexical of their inferiority and backwardness. In the process, they reinterpreted the recent past in which Griko still ‘survived’ as the linguistic and existential code; crucially; however, the activities they promoted transcended the boundaries of Griko to incorporate cultural expressions of Salentine at large. By including popular traditions and folk music in Salentine, they effectively avoided the exclusionary logic held by the intellectuals of the first revival and its limits.
The reevaluation of the past promoted by the activists of the middle revival is in fact embedded in the specific historical moment that sees the articulation of the protest of radical progress, urbanization, and of established social and cultural hierarchies. This was a widespread phenomenon in Europe. Jeremy Boissevain (1992:9) describes this as being linked to international political and socioeconomic processes, namely, modernization, migration, and tourism, through which “pressures from subordinate classes and regions … have brought about a shift in power and led to a redefinition of legitimate culture. This has permitted long-suppressed or denigrated regional and popular culture to flourish.”
The activists of the middle revival participated in this politicization of local movements occurring in Italy and Europe; theirs was inherently a political act with a political message that formulated claims to local specificity—which included Griko but did not do so in an exclusionary way. Tommaso from Zollino, born in 1947, says,
You have to understand that my parents’ generation was raped, as it were. They were led to believe that their culture, language, lifestyle, everything was inferior. That Italian had to be their language and the hegemonic culture was what they had to strive for. Salento was ‘the end of the world,’ you know? This was La terra del rimorso (the land of remorse); it is true that people largely improved their economic and social conditions, but they lost so much on the way. You can never forget who you were, and you must not! Be careful: you can never be ashamed of your past. You can only be ashamed of what you lose.
These words summarize the discourse of the activists. They belong to what I referred to in the previous chapters as the ‘in-between generation’: they were born in the 1950s and ’60s, and had grown up between the ‘past’ and the ‘modern’ worldviews; beyond their different occupations—among them professors, government employees, librarians, employees of the local municipality—most of them were and are politically sensitive and engaged. Crucially, they are the children of the upwardly mobile peasant and merchant classes who were moving up the social ladder. Their education and political orientation led them to advance claims to the local cultural identity, and to reclaim its centrality as an expression of the people through its own modalities, including songs and traditions, tales, etc. Their aim was to rebuild self-awareness and at the same time to denounce the arbitrariness of the attribution of social inferiority as a so-called ‘subaltern’ culture.
In contrast to the first revival, the ‘addressee’ of the middle revival was not Greece but Italy, in the demand for valorization of their specific local history, shifting it from the margins to which the dominant and hegemonic culture had relegated it. Giovanni summarized their activities succinctly: “resistance was a way of being in those times when we were losing important values, values which were wrongly considered obsolete.”

The Reproposal of the Folk Music Repertoire

Roberto Licci from Calimera joined Il Canzoniere in 1971 as a singer. When I first met him by chance in Athens the previous fall, he had seemed shy but also direct. It was now the beginning of September, but the heat and humidity of ‘this land of dirt mixed with water’ (as I call Salento) dominated the air that afternoon. We had agreed to meet on the main square in Calimera and there we sat and drank our coffee, chatting. My first impression was confirmed by that encounter, Roberto was indeed not a showman. “My musical background is really musica leggera (pop music); then, in 1974, I met Rina Durante and we founded Il Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, which was a merger of Il Canzoniere del Salento and the Canzoniere di Calimera. I was part of it until 1989. That was before we founded Ghetonìa.”
Il Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (the Salentine-Greek Songbook) is the first folk revival group founded with the express intention to preserve the local folk music repertoire. What is now an internationally recognized band that often performs abroad emerged in 1975 as the project of the local writer Rina Durante from Melendugno (a non–Griko-speaking village situated five kilometers from Calimera), who, together with her cousin Daniele Durante—a guitarist—initiated a process of research, documentation, and riproposta. [20] Roberto, continuing to talk about music, paused and interjected, “In the end it all started earlier with Griko. Here in Calimera there was at the time a schoolmistress, Angela Campi Colella. She was very good and she could write in Griko. There is a nice song written by her. She really was the first in Calimera to start the research.” From the way Roberto described her, it seemed evident that she still holds a place of great affection in Roberto’s memory, revealing the crucial role played by sensitive school-teachers in transmitting the ‘passion’ for Griko.
“The first time we [Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino] went to perform in Greece, we had been invited by the Communist party; it was 1976. It was at the time of local elections and we ended up playing at an electoral campaign event!”, Roberto said laughing. I had been told many times that it was a common practice for them during the concerts to fare un comizio—that is, to turn their concerts into political meetings by giving a political speech. “We wanted to pass on a message, the message that music itself carries. You know that in the past merchants used to leave the village at night to travel and sell products, right? One caravan after the other, they created a sort of chain, and the first caravan would start with a strophe of a song and the following caravan would sing the second and so on; and then they’d start over. That way, the entire caravan kept in contact. We wanted to do the same, to pass on a message, to recreate community,” Roberto concluded.
The aim of the Canzoniere was in fact to create consciousness around the Salentine culture through its music and songs, and “to use traditional lyrics and melodies from a political point of view, in line with what was happening in the rest of Italy with the various regional songbooks and with the Italian songbook,” as Vincenzo Santoro and Sergio Torsello argue (2002:91). Their protest, however took a specific form in the context of the longstanding tradition of the subalternity of the South. The Southern Question, which concerns the contrasting economic, political, and cultural/social relationships between the North and the South, lingered with these activists. The activists of the middle revival longed for the ‘redemption’ of a long stigmatized South, of La terra del rimorso (the land of remorse), [21] and were committed to breaking with their parents’ self-deprecation and subalternity.
The following excerpt is taken from the website of the Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, where they argue for the need
to locate those roots of the popular culture which are still alive and to identify those essential traits which survive; we have to take into account how they transformed themselves and how they could transform themselves in the meeting-synthesis with other cultural expressions: this is the only way in which this culture can be revitalized. [22]
Having realized that their position between the old and the modern world, as it were, was powerful in some sort of way, they presented themselves as cerniere generazionali—as “generational connectors.” Their discourse and the claims they put forward were far distant from the rhetoric employed by the intellectuals and cultori del griko of the first ideological revival of Griko, which would have linked them to a distant albeit glorious Hellenic past; the cultural activists of the middle revival instead engaged in those traditions that were expressions of the people and their locality—traditions that had been partially forgotten but not erased. Griko was if not the first and main element, then certainly the most disruptive among the local codes, and crucially the language of expression of a world that had been silenced by modernity. The explicit aim of the activists of the middle revival was to ‘give back’ to the people a pride in their own cultural distinctiveness, to restore the broken memory of the local past and with it the best values it carried—turning what used to be considered a reason for shame into a reason for pride. In the process they linked Griko to a local chronotope promoting a specific cultural temporality of language.

The Past on Stage: The Spectacle-ization of Popular Culture

Yet these cultural activists did not limit themselves to ‘restoring’ the past, as the term riproposta (reproposal) might indicate. Instead, they re-storied it, reproposing folk traditions by reinterpreting those cultural practices; ultimately they reappropriated the past inhabited by their parents: “Through our initiatives we reproposed the best values the past carried for the present and the future,” Giovanni summarized. It was not a mere act of reviving something, to restore life to the past, language included, but an act of interpretation, reappropriation, and reproposal. Through it, the cultural activists of the middle revival redefined the relationship between the past and the present; the past was ‘redeemed’ and crucially it became a route into a new future.
The very act of restoring/re-storying and reproposing is a performative act in which the activists of the middle revival performed as social actors in front of an audience. The success of the ‘reproposal’ of local traditions was therefore clearly dependent upon the responses of the audience, who are the bearers of that very culture; this points out the interactional aspect of the dynamic at play. Such traditional practices certainly struck a chord in people’s memories, memories that were still alive: “For a long period of time no one sang the Passion. I had missed it a lot,” said Lina from Zollino. “And then, after years of silence, it started being sung again. It was so nice to hear it again.”
From the accounts I collected, however, there likewise emerged an initial reluctance, as these practices also reminded people of the hardships of the recent past; the self-deprecation suffered by locals still lingered in their self-perception, and had not yet washed away the feeling of shame they had long internalized. Cultural activists had to gain the locals’ trust, as they were suspicious about the motives behind the reintroduction of popular traditions. Particularly diffident were locals who were called on to take part in the process (singers, performers of the Passion of the Christ, etc.) and their initial diffidence was overcome through time and thanks to the direct involvement of the activists. The ways in which popular traditions were reproposed initially created tension. Antimino, for instance, complained,
The Passion used to be sung only at Easter time, then we started singing it at any time of the year. In any case, it was different [my emphasis]. We also used to sing the Passion to earn some money or to be given some eggs; my mum would then sell them to buy some cotton and patch our clothes.
The danger of decontextualizing cultural practices lingers, as the organization required to ‘revive’ traditions may entail a change in the social context and cultural setting associated with them. Let me clarify here that I do not take ‘context’ to be something unchanging, nor am I implying that one, and only one, context is the right and correct one. A ‘context’ is “an empirical phenomenon, an observable situation” (Stewart 1994:206) that is defined by different kinds of activities, practices, and performances. Even though the boundaries of such a context cannot necessarily be delimited, people do recognize when they shift. Decontextualization, therefore, does not mean that a practice is to be taken out of context, but that those characteristics that define it have been altered; it ultimately means cultural and ideological change, change that locals may initially find disconcerting and uncomfortable, as Antimino’s words reveal. Singing The Passion of the Christ was a practice ‘in context’ in the past, as it were; reproposing it, with its language and music, entails repositioning them in the ‘context’ of the present. Antimino’s is ultimately a comment on change and its perception. Similarly, this is how Michele from Argalìo reports his father’s reflections on the changes of the modalities of traditional singing:
The musical group was a spontaneous [my emphasis] initiative which kept the traditional forms; with the first staged musical performances, the ‘tradition’ became an ‘exhibition’; my father and the elderly of the group actually hated it, and they hated being recorded or filmed.
This comment points to the shift from a ‘spontaneous’ and thus unreflective practice to one in which the locals (the singers, in this case) are very conscious of what they are doing, one in which they ‘exhibit’ their knowledge. The elderly members of the Argalìo were indeed reluctant; they feared they would potentially be turned into performers of themselves (cf. Sant Cassia 2000:290). Cultural activists of the middle revival instead considered performance itself as the medium through which to denounce the subalternity imposed on popular culture. Their activities gradually led to the spectacle-ization of language and culture; they were, however, aware of this possible consequence and ready to take the risk. In an interview from the late 1970s, Rina Durante from Il Canzoniere said,
The recovery of popular culture today goes through the acquisition of a political consciousness. When it is done this way, it becomes a serious matter; what counts is whether this operation at the level of awareness works or not, it does not matter whether the recovery goes through spectacle-ization (spettacolarizzazione). What matters is whether the political work we carry on with this discourse on popular culture brings the results it should. [23]
Their primary aim was to raise political consciousness. Not coincidentally, the term operatore culturale takes the explicit dimension of activism. La riproposta (the reproposal) of the local past at large—with its practices and values—needed the active intervention of cultural activists; their cultural operations were needed. In one of our conversations, Giovanni from Zollino had pointed out,
When popular culture has been misrecognized, repressed, marginalized for such a long time, you need a phase in which those who own the cultural practices pass them on to the younger generation; you then need an intermediate phase where elderly and young perform together on stage, and then a third stage on which young people move. You need people like me to facilitate this.
This process indeed generated tensions between the old generation, which ‘owned’ these practices, and the ‘in-between generation,’ which reappropriated them. It also opened up internal contradictions as to how to define the ‘authenticity’ of cultural practices and the ‘authority’ (owners versus interpreters) and ‘control’ over them, which needed constant renegotiation. Members of the association Argalìo recall, for instance, the heated debates around these issues between the elderly and the younger members of the association/music band. Through the dynamics of the middle revival, interestingly, the social gap that dominated the first revival becomes an intergenerational distance in the choice of the very modalities through which to repropose practices, which were then constantly debated and renegotiated.
The interpretation, appropriation, and redemption of the past by the activists of the middle revival (the ‘in-between generation’) ultimately led to the objectification of traditional practices, and of language. Crucially and inadvertently, this paved the way to their commodification, turning de Martino’s land of remorse into ‘the land of resource,’ and to the consequent multifaceted and contradictory effects that characterize the current revival.


[ back ] 1. The title ‘Prof.’ in this thesis refers to schoolteachers and reflects the local use of the term.
[ back ] 2. Thanks to these contacts, the first cultural exchanges with Greece were also to follow in the 1970s.
[ back ] 3. www.ghetonia.it/pubblicazioni [06/22/2011]. Link expired; see archived version at https://web.archive.org/web/20160913045811/www.ghetonia.it/pubblicazioni (most recent archived version: 09/13/2016).
[ back ] 4. See Pipyrou 2016, for Calabria.
[ back ] 5. Papagaroufali (2005) makes a similar point when discussing the perception of local history among the inhabitants of Palaea Fokaea, a village near the city of Athens. They belong to those Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians who were relocated to Greece from Asia Minor as part of the population exchange in 1922. She argues that for them, “history is something that must be ‘really felt’” (2005:337), as their knowledge of history and the past is at a sensory-affective level.
[ back ] 6. While the intellectuals’ efforts to give prestige to Griko had so far remained distant from lay preoccupations, the experience of fighting in Greece represented the first ‘real’ contact with Greece and with Greeks. It is common to hear that Griko speakers fighting in Greece learned MG in the span of few months (see Pellegrino 2013).
[ back ] 7. See McDonald (1989) and Jaffe (1999) for similar remarks concerning Breton and Corsican respectively.
[ back ] 8. Furthermore, the lack of ‘qualified’ teachers, with the required linguistic and methodological training (who, according to the memorandum, had to be competent not only in Griko but also in MG), posed serious constraints to the school principals in the application of the memorandum. I will come back to the issue of the teachers’ training in Chapter 5, as it is still an important one in the current revival.
[ back ] 9. Prof. Nucita is also the author of Twenty Years After: Language, Culture and Folklore in Grecìa Salentina, published after Prof. Cotardo’s premature death in 1987.
[ back ] 10. See Pipyrou 2010 for Calabrian Greek.
[ back ] 11. The association of Glòssama (my language) was the first one to be established in the early 1970s. The centrality given to contacts with Greece differentiates it from the discourse that permeates the activities of the rest of the associations. Moreover, its founder, Prof. Sicuro, had engaged with Griko activism much longer compared to the activists of the middle revival. Among the initiatives promoted by the association we find radio Glòssama, which for a few years broadcast daily lessons in MG and in so doing compared it to Griko. Equally important is that, thanks to Sicuro’s activity, the first cultural exchanges with Greece were organized in the early 1970s. These involved schoolchildren.
[ back ] 12. In Zollino in particular, he argues, there was strong opposition to this initiative. On the one hand, the Catholic church was quite literally annoyed by this tradition, which was considered to be an invasion by unauthorized people into themes that were primarily religious and thus the domain of the clergy. On the other hand, the local administration did not appreciate any initiatives that came from ‘Communists,’ and did not tolerate their intrusions well.
[ back ] 13. Among those Giovanni also mentioned are the Carnival of Grecìa Salentina and the Focare de Sant’Antoniu (Saint Anthony’s Fires). These were, effectively, pagan festivals celebrating the winter by symbolically defeating the bad weather. The bonfires were lit on the commemoration day of Saint Anthony Abate, for instance. Giovanni and La Bottega reintroduced this tradition and gave life to the La Festa de lu focu (the Feast of the Fire) in 1978 (reenacted yearly ever since), which also anticipated the traditional one of December 28, when migrants would return to the village for Christmas celebrations.
[ back ] 14. See Lüdkte (2009).
[ back ] 15. See Imbriani (2015) for on overview.
[ back ] 16. Giovanni never stopped engaging with Griko and the local culture; most recently he founded the cultural association Fonè (Voices) in Zollino in 2015, which gave indeed a ‘voice’ to locals’ concerns about environmental, political, and cultural issues.
[ back ] 17. They would go to the Church of Saint Paul in Galatina on June 29 (Saint Paul’s day) to ask him to help them recover. At the front of the church, as well as outside, they would convulse, and the music of pizzica tarantata was used to cure them.
[ back ] 18. Argalìo was officially founded in 1981, although its activity dates back to the early 1970s.
[ back ] 19. The group of the elderly of Argalìo acted as a precious resource for the research carried out by il Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, as we will soon see.
[ back ] 20. The pivotal contribution of the Canzoniere in the current folk revival is largely acknowledged, as the majority of the repertoire of recent folk groups draws on this initial research and subsequent reintroduction (riproposta). Collaborators such as Brizio Montinaro and Luigi Chiriatti from Calimera attest to the ethnographically oriented methodology of their research, which involved direct contact with the bearers of this rich tradition. See Montinaro (1994) and Chiriatti (1995).
[ back ] 21. De Martino’s book was translated into English by Dorothy Louise Zinn (2005). Studies in this field have proliferated in recent years, particularly around what has become known as neo-tarantism, a contemporary reappropriation of tarantism. The bibliography is extensive; see Pizza (1999, 2004, 2015) and for a recent treatment in English, see Lüdtke (2009). For a review of the bibliography related to tarantism, see also Mina and Torsello (2005). For a thorough consideration of de Martino and spirit possession in English, see Lewis (1996).
[ back ] 22. www.canzonieregrecanico.it (Accessed 06/30/2011; link now expired.)