4. From “the Land of Remorse” to ‘the Land of Resource’

That August day was cloudy—not exactly the kind of day you would want to spend at the beach. Yet that is precisely what my longtime friend Antonio proposed when he called me. “Let’s drive along the coast. I’ll call Massimo too!” He didn’t have to persuade me. The three of us regularly make the short trip along the Adriatic coast to admire the views. Driving south from Otranto towards Santa Maria di Leuca, on the heel of the Italian boot, the road gets narrower until it suddenly turns into hairpin bends embracing the coast. To one side is the beautiful countryside and its masserie (Italian); on the other, the marvelous coast with its Norman watchtowers, some majestic, some understated. “It is not busy at all today for a change. What a relief,” Massimo reflected. It was true. Because of the overcast skies the road was indeed not busy as it often is at summertime, when locals and tourists race to the best sandy and rocky spots. “Guys, why don’t we stop here instead and enjoy the rusciu de lu mare?! [Salentine]”, Antonio exclaimed. “The sound of the sea” refers to the music of the lapping and crashing of waves. Not incidentally, this is also the title of one of the most well-known traditional songs in Salentine, a lullaby whose rhythm increases bit by bit, so that it morphs into a pizzica song. Before Massimo and I could agree, Antonio stopped the car in a beautiful spot not far from Porto Badisco, the port where legend has it that Aeneas first landed on his escape from Troy. We all put our sun chairs in the middle of the fields facing the sea. Indeed, the view is overwhelming; you can see that slight curve in the horizon.
“Do you remember that old tape of traditional music you copied for me ages ago?” I asked Antonio, who immediately replied, “I do! Who knows where it is! But I’ve got the CD of the live concert of La Notte della Taranta with me, the 2003 edition of the festival, the one directed by Stewart Copeland.” He put the CD on and left the car windows down so we could listen while staring at the sea. The first performance of “The Night of the Tarantula” took place in 1998 and was rather an intimate event. This folk music festival, whose title clearly references tarantism, and in which the music of pizzica dominates, has meanwhile become a major annual event on the global music scene, attracting as many as 200,000 people from all over Italy and the rest of Europe. Over the years it has been directed by well-known Italian and foreign musicians, including the aforementioned former drummer of the English band The Police. At my request, Massimo then forwarded the CD to Kalinìtta, the song in Griko, which is always, almost ritualistically performed as the grand finale of the concert. Originally titled Matinàta, it is a poem in the oral tradition that was reworked by Vito Domenico Palumbo and then set to music. It is now the de facto ‘hymn’ of Grecìa Salentina (GS). [1]
When the song reached its refrain, Antonio started singing, but soon stopped: “I’m terrible at languages ... and when I went to Greece I wished I knew more Griko.” His knowledge of Griko is indeed limited to only a few words and expressions. The previous year he had traveled to Ioannina together with a few people from Zollino as part of a trip organized by a Griko activist from Corigliano. “You’re old! You should know some more Griko,” Massimo intervened, teasing Antonio as usual for the eleven-year age gap between them. He added, laughing, “Your nephews will soon know more Griko than you now that it’s taught at school.” Antonio, who is approaching his fiftieth birthday, adjusted his posture on his sun chair and replied, “Yes, yes, I am old. And yes, I used to hear it all the time as a child and I don’t speak it. But mind you, I can still tell you to shut up in Griko!” We all laughed. He continued, “Seriously now, take Cosimino for instance. Griko helped us get by when we were in Greece, and he has also been taking MG classes.” Massimo shifted the conversation, suggesting we take a trip to Greece through Albania—he is always buying musical instruments from abroad—when all of a sudden the sky turned black and the first few raindrops fell. We quickly put the sun chairs in the back of the car and said our farewells to the sea and the music of its waves. It was time for coffee.
As we saw in the previous chapter, cultural activists of the middle revival had advanced claims to the linguistic and cultural heritage of the area in the context of Italian national politics, but they lacked a framework of articulation that would legitimize those claims. The Italian state’s legal recognition of Griko that they had long fought to achieve was reached only in 1999, when Law 482 recognized Griko together with Calabrian Greek among the twelve historical minority languages on Italian soil. Consequently, as Massimo mentioned above, Griko is now officially taught in local schools. Meanwhile, since 1994 the Greek Ministry of Education has been sending teachers to Salento and Calabria to teach MG in schools and cultural associations. Indeed, Cosimo from Zollino had benefitted from these classes, and Antonio’s trip to Greece was the result of collaborations between local cultural associations and Greek ones, which had intensified in the 1990s.
The current revival is partly the outcome of the ceaseless activity of cultural associations, but it crucially points to this interplay of transnational and national language policies and ideologies, and the impact of the rights discourse on the articulation of group claims. [2] The global attention towards ‘endangered languages’ and the climate of support for minority languages nourished by the European Council gave renewed opportunities to local activists, as they felt that their efforts to save and foster Griko were finally being legitimated. Indeed, the European Bureau for Lesser-used Languages was established in 1982 to represent their communities in their dealings with European Union institutions. Throughout the 1990s, it funded several projects by local cultural associations that resulted in the publication of books, CDs, and grammars of Griko. The resources made possible by the new interest in Griko were instrumental in sustaining the efforts of cultori del griko and activists, and in fostering a dynamic process that actively involved part of the local population. Yet it will become clear how their centrality would be eventually overshadowed by the activity of local politicians who effectively made the best of the availability of protected rights and financial resources at the national and European level; crucially, they blended Griko and folk music, and successfully ‘marketed’ the territory. By the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, La Notte della Taranta and Grecìa Salentina not only had entered locals’ vocabulary, but, together with catchy terms like pizzica and Griko, had become familiar well beyond the borders of this cultural island. Indeed, it would be impossible to appreciate fully the dynamics of the current revival of Griko without also considering the revival of folk music, as the two causes are in a metonymic relationship. Likewise, it would be misleading to refer to their repercussions in Grecìa Salentina in isolation from the Salentine surroundings. La Notte della Taranta—the jewel of local policymakers, as Lüdkte (2009:110) defines it—effectively inserted the whole of Salento into the circuit of cultural tourism. Songs such as Lu rusciu de lu mare and Kalinìtta are now widely known. Pizzica, hand in hand with Griko, has been turned into the symbol of the local identity, as well as the trademark of Salento.
I this chapter I analyze the emergence of the current revival and the dynamics it generates, and I show how it is embedded and oriented towards a global discourse wherein the celebration of diversity catalyzes the articulation of local claims. Discourses of cultural difference, however, become the humus for political entrepreneurship, allowing spokesmen to communicate on behalf of others and initiate polarizing debates, which ultimately limit the options of the followers (Barth 1995:65). In fact, local politicians’ managerial approach to the local cultural heritage has created ambiguities and contradictions within the community. Moreover, I argue, the application on the ground of the national and regional laws for the safeguard of Griko reveals local tensions about the division of labor and access to resources, as well as fears of losing control over cultural and linguistic ownership.

The Nineties: The Intensification of Contacts with Greece and the Teaching of Modern Greek

One of the features that distinguishes this phase of the revival is indeed the intensification of contacts with Greece, and the collaborations between local cultural associations and Greek ones. As a result, almost every village of GS has a representative who fosters contacts with Greek associations, welcomes Greek tourists, and guides them through the Griko-speaking and surrounding villages; these encounters often result in mutual friendship and collaboration. Antonio Anchora (1950–2016) from Corigliano is a characteristic example; his active engagement with Griko, however, started in the late 1980s, when he was contacted by a Greek association that wanted to collaborate with the Griko-speaking villages. Antonio would travel to Greece as often as every two-to-three months, and during his years of activity, he coordinated study trips in Greece involving, in total, about two thousand people, including children, students, musicians, academics, artists, and elderly people from Grecìa Salentina. As a result, in 2001 the Greek government, through the Athens prefecture, nominated him ‘ambassador of Hellenism in the world’ as an acknowledgement of his engagement and activity. His title should not mislead the reader into picturing him as an institutional figure; his jovial and easygoing personality made him highly regarded on both shores. Locally he was referred to and is still remembered as ‘the friend of Greeks.’
The same applies to the other representatives who welcomed Greek visitors. Since the late 1980s, the cultural association Chora-Ma has also regularly hosted Greek scholars and groups of tourists, intensifying its relations with Greek cultural associations. More crucially, it has invited Greek religious and political authorities to visit the area. The survival of Griko without any institutionalized support—or maybe because of it—generally strikes a chord with the Greek population at large, as it offers both a reason for and proof of ‘national pride’ (see Chapter 7). Indeed, while on Italian soil Griko activists’ attempts to draw attention to the situation of Griko had to this point fallen on deaf ears, they found an attentive audience in Greece. Local Griko activists always acknowledge Greek aficionados of Griko for taking the issue of Griko to heart, and perhaps most importantly for giving visibility to the Griko cause by alerting the Greek media to it and thereby informing Greek public opinion. [3]
As it was in the first revival, Greece continues to be perceived as ‘an agent of recognition’—a recognition that the Italian government would not grant despite the activists’ lobbying. However, the current revival expands beyond merely the intellectual audience and reaches out to the Greek population at large thanks to the activity of Greek cultural associations. These effectively became the springboard for the articulation of Griko activists’ claims; local Griko activists saw in Greek aficionados of Griko someone to amplify their voice, and to this end they appealed to and capitalized upon the Greeks’ affection for their own cultural heritage, almost in a strategic manner. Interestingly, they always stress the pivotal role Greek cultural associations played, for instance, in advocating the teaching of MG, which they proudly consider the direct result of their continued lobbying. Over the years, local Griko activists had indeed repeatedly approached the Greek consulate in Naples, requesting its mediation and intervention; this eventually led to the Greek consul sending a professor from the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’ to study the situation of Grecìa Salentina, after which the advocates’ request was granted.
How MG would be beneficial to the preservation of Griko is locally contested. This topic always prompts yet another ideological debate (see Chapter 5), which creates internal tensions among activists and speakers alike: those who are in favor of MG and its teaching perceive it as an ‘agent of renewal’ of Griko, in that it would enrich Griko’s limited vocabulary; and those who see MG instead as an ‘agent of contamination’ fear that it would erase the historical peculiarities of Griko. I will return to these issues in the next chapter.

Cultural associations

While the activity of the cultural associations such as Chora-Ma, Bottega, Glòssama, Ghetonìa, and Argalìo continued over the years, newer cultural associations were established throughout the 1990s. Grika Milùme (We Speak Griko) in Martano is the only one that focuses specifically on language issues; Nuova Messapia (New Messapia), created in Soleto in 1995, focuses not only on language but also on local history, art, and environmental issues, as Francesco explained (see Chapter 1). Significantly, in the 1990s, the Griko cause and that of folk music joined forces. Avlèddha (Little Courtyard), for instance, began its life more broadly as a cultural association, one set up in 1991 by the brothers Gianni (1958–2015) and Rocco De Santis (born in 1964) from Sternatia, both mother-tongue Griko speakers. As a musical group, they specifically relaunched the local music repertoire in Griko and Salentine, and added a number of new songs. The children of Cesarino De Santis, whom I referred to in the previous chapter, the brothers had inherited their father’s passion for the language and followed in his footsteps. As they like to recall, they grew up surrounded by scholars such as Gerhard Rohlfs and Anastasios Karanastasis, who benefited from Cesarino’s invaluable collaboration.
The name of the association recalls the layout of typical local houses—case a corte (Italian). “We chose this name because the courtyard was simultaneously a closed and an open space, a right of way [Griko: jusso na diavì apù ‘ttù], a place we share,” Gianni explained. Sharing their love and knowledge of Griko has been Rocco’s and Gianni’s aim ever since, a goal they have accomplished using music, poetry, and theater as their preferred means. Among their albums, Otranto, Senza frontiere (Otranto Without Borders) and Ofidèa (Snake) are well known locally, as well as in Greece. The late Gianni had been a very charismatic and entertaining man, a real people person. He knew an astounding number of lay people, intellectuals, and activists, and was typically the ‘middle man’ who facilitated relations between people. He recalled how, when he returned to Sternatia after over twenty years working near Milan, he felt the need to reacquaint himself with and treasure all the things he had missed. “My contribution has been to involve people in this experience; I have the gift to carry people away!” he would say smiling. Of the two brothers, Gianni was typically the one who wrote the lyrics in Griko, while Rocco wrote the music. They also set to music some of their father’s and siblings’ Griko poems. “Music travels on different wavelengths,” Rocco argued, “so in our songs we tend to use Griko.”
The marriage between the different skills of the De Santis brothers was to prove successful. They started singing in two taverns in the village—at Mocambo every Friday and at Pizzeria Lu Puzzu (The Well) every Tuesday (see Figure 18). The engagement of the respective taverna owners and the active participation of Giovanni, whom we met in the previous chapter, were vital in gaining visibility for these events, as these were the key people who more generally were championing the recovery of local practices. These music nights became regular features; in particular, what was to become well known as Martedì Lu Puzzu (Tuesdays at Lu Puzzu) became a key event and a catalyst for local folk music amateurs. [4]
Figure 18
Figure 18: Martedì Lu Puzzu, 2008. Credit: Theodoros Kargas
In one of our many conversations, Uccio told me that local people interested in the local music started meeting at his pizzeria, and that by getting to know each other, they became collaborators. “Some of them could not even play tambourine or diatonic accordion! Ninety percent of the folk music bands that are famous today actually started to perform within the walls of my tavern!” he says proudly. Vito echoed his words: “They would arrive here and ask me: ‘Would we be disturbing you if we played our music?’ And now they have all become famous!” Word spread, and quickly these locations became the meeting point for local folk music aficionados and the point of contact for Greek people traveling to Grecìa Salentina. These regular events effectively created a space for emerging musicians who were to become the VIPs of the current revival.
These local taverns show how the spark of the music revival was lit by a rather spontaneous and genuine reappropriation of folk music in a relaxed and festive environment. According to Gianni, “this spark was constantly fueled to eventually produce an explosion.” He also stressed how these regular musical events were followed by local emerging politicians, and particularly by those who later became the mayors of the Griko-speaking villages. “They were young and ambitious. It was quite simply a fortunate and successful combination of the right people. Our contribution was to bring them together. Just imagine: it was at Mocambo that the casting of Pizzicata (Bitten) was gathered,” he added.” Further visibility for the area was provided by the work of Edoardo Winspeare; despite his non–Italian-sounding surname, Winspeare is a Salentine screenwriter and film director who sets his movies in Salento, featuring the local music repertoire and the Salentine landscape.
Music proved to be an additional driving force: “Music has wheels and travels, Griko does not,” as one of my informants put it. In other words, it functioned as a vehicle that found a vast audience when compared to the niche audience of Griko aficionados, and it served as a powerful magnet for the recruitment of new young singers and followers. New music bands started popping up like mushrooms in the 1990s, some of which have meanwhile become known well beyond Salento and Italy.

The Union of the Municipalities of GS and La Notte della Taranta

The 1990s were years of turmoil in Grecìa Salentina. While local politicians had historically been insensitive to Griko and the local cultural heritage, the Griko-speaking villages were now administered by smart and farsighted left-wing mayors. Having come to appreciate not only Griko’s cultural but also its economic potential, these mayors joined forces to develop the area, diving in to make the most of the availability of legal instruments and financial resources at the national and European level. Following a national decree, which encouraged administrative integration among the municipalities, in 2001 they established the Union of the Municipalities of Grecìa Salentina (Unione dei Comuni della Grecìa Salentina, UCGS hereafter). If the UCGS has so far failed to provide integrated services such as transport, local police, and law and registry as had been hoped for with the national decree, it has succeeded in prioritizing the ‘cultural’ over the ‘administrative,’ although Griko and folk music are not mentioned in the UCGS’s statute.
Significantly, the availability of European Union financial resources prompted local mayors to access specific EU INTERREG programs aimed at stimulating interregional cooperation between Italy and Greece. These cross-border cooperation programs further boosted the intensification of contacts with Greece, and facilitated both informal and formal exchanges and partnership between the two countries. Specifically, Grecìa Salentina has so far benefited from five such Italy–Greece programs. These are aimed (among other things) at the “Promotion, Restoration, and Development of the Historical and Cultural Environment of Common Interest.” A variety of projects, including the restoration and renovation of numerous monuments and historical centers in each village, have been carried out over the years thanks to these resources.
This favorable intersection of events at the local, national, and international levels led to unpredictable repercussions beyond the Griko-speaking villages, and from there to what has been defined as the Salentine ‘renaissance.’ The UCGS furthermore launched a marketing campaign of the area that incorporated different strategies (advertising, public relations, direct marketing, and large-scale events). The logo of Grecìa Salentina has been one of the key visual means by which the territory has been marketed. This logo is visible at the entrance of every village that is part of the UCGS, and includes a message of welcome written in Griko—Kalòs ìrtate (Welcome)—which is also translated into MG, English, French, and German. [5]
Figure 19: The welcoming sign at the entrance of each village
The logo features a symbol—the letter alpha (α) of the Greek alphabet, except turned upside down—along with nine colored bands representing the nine historical Griko-speaking villages, with a blue-sky background and an olive leaf symbolizing the fruits of this land. [6] The logo appears in every publication related to Griko, but at its root is simply “in honor of Grecìa Salentina,” as the ex-mayor of Zollino clarified for me, since it does not necessarily indicate a financial contribution by the UCGS. Riding the wave of the moment, the word ‘Salento’ itself became a catchword. At the peak of this wave, a proliferation of commercial brands entered locals’ everyday lives, such as Salento d’amare (Salento to love), Salento 12, and Salentomania; all draw upon dominant features of the place, merging material with immaterial and symbolic elements. An epidemic of ‘Salentinity’ was the result. [7]

Dancing and Singing the Revival: The Night of the Tarantula

Yet it was the folk music repertoire in Salentine, and to a lesser extent in Griko, that was to prove the most effective marketing tool for the area. The folk music festival The Night of the Tarantula was indeed central in this process, and in developing what Paolo Apolito refers to as “anthropological tourism” (2007:13, 14). The name of the festival itself clearly references the phenomenon of tarantism investigated by Ernesto de Martino in the late 1950s. The touring festival (festival itinerante) takes place during the month of August and includes concerts in every village of Grecìa Salentina, while the grand closing concert (Italian: concertone) takes place in Melpignano, usually on the last Saturday of August. Sergio Blasi, the mayor of Melpignano from 2000 to 2010, often remarks proudly that he was the idea-man behind the festival. He was also one of the promoters of the founding in 1997 of the Institute Diego Carpitella, to which the festival is tightly linked. Named after the ethnomusicologist who was part of Ernesto de Martino’s team, the institute’s overall aim was to research, recover, document, and promote the cultural and artistic heritage of Salento, and in particular, as its charter says, “to foster every form of artistic creativity inspired by the themes and expressions typical of the Salentine culture.” In addition to the financial support of the UCGS, in 2002 the province of Lecce and in 2005 the region of Puglia started investing in this festival. Finally, in 2008 they joined their efforts, together with the Institute Diego Carpitella, creating La Fondazione della Notte della Taranta (the Foundation of the Night of the Tarantula) to guarantee the financial and logistical sustainability of the event. [8]
The music revival burgeoned in the first decade of the twenty-first century and has become a mass movement that transcends local boundaries, not only of the Griko-speaking area, but of the Salentine peninsula overall, and has become a globally known phenomenon. Il fenomeno della pizzica (the pizzica phenomenon), as it is called, has resulted in the establishment of countless new music bands and pizzica dance schools in Salento and throughout Italy. The tarantula has become contagious, biting everywhere and making national and international headlines. The tourism industry has boomed all over the Salento area, and its unprecedented ‘fame’ has boosted the local economy: locals have converted their country houses into bed and breakfasts to host tourists mainly in the summer season; traditional houses have been revalued, restored, and sold for large sums; restaurants, ‘traditional taverns’ selling traditional food, and touring offices have popped up like mushrooms, offering locals occupational relief. Salento is now in the spotlight and has indeed become one of the preferred destinations for tourists in Italy and beyond, and the flow of tourists continues to increase. Local cultural heritage is indeed no longer perceived as a hindrance—as it had long been viewed—but as a source of economic possibility and social redemption. De Martino’s “the land of remorse” has been transformed into the ‘land of resource’.

An identity to live and to sell

To be sure, The Night of the Tarantula capitalizes on the spectacular phenomenon of tarantism and its seductive myth while sharing nothing with it—the existential suffering and psychological discomfort described by de Martino here becomes a big party. Tarantism is therefore decontextualized and recontextualized, in order to be detached from its negative connotations, and to become a positive symbol of local identity. This phenomenon has attracted the attention of a remarkable number of Italian and foreign scholars of various disciplines, investigating what has become known as ‘neo-tarantism’; that is, the contemporary reappropriation of tarantism. [9] According to Karen Lüdkte (2009), the contemporary use of pizzica serves multiple aims that prominently include the search for and celebration of a local sense of identity. The myth of the tarantula, she argues, has now become a performance that celebrates a local sense of identity, as well as a trendy form of entertainment that advertises and promotes Salento with its exotic features. The myth of the tarantula is part of a wider phenomenon of the renaissances of local identities worldwide emerging as a response to globalization; crucially, it points to the successful mechanism of cultural politics, as it were, involving local politicians and scholars (see Figures 20 and 21).
Figure 20: La notte della Taranta, touring festival 2008, Zollino. Credit: Theodoros Kargas
Figure 21: The dancing audience, Zollino. Credit: Theodoros Kargas
Giovanni Pizza (1999, 2004:202) soon drew attention to the commodification of tarantism facilitated by the collaboration between local cultural producers and political and heritage institutions. The rediscovery of de Martino’s pivotal work by Italian anthropologists in the mid-1990s (three decades after his death) has inadvertently played a role in this process. Local scholars—“self-proclaimed anthropologists” (Pizza 2004:201)—and ethnomusicologists participated in the renewed academic attention and contributed to the anthropological debate that originated with De Martino’s work, ultimately disconnecting tarantism from its negative stereotype and reformulating it. De Martino considered tarantism a cultural phenomenon in which the symbolic bite of the taranta occurred when the victim experienced stress and difficulties; it was therefore linked to the “crisis of the presence,” that is, “the existential drama of being exposed to the risk of not being here” (de Martino 1948:141). [10] In the moment in which autonomy and freedom are threatened—in this case by economic and social marginalization and lack of political power—the ritual of tarantism represents the victims’ attempt “to be there,” to redeem their own presence. “The redemption of the presence” means in fact that one takes control of one’s own existence in order to “enter into history” (de Martino 1949:248).
As Pizza argues (2004: 205–206), crucial in the contemporary reformulation of tarantism has been the legacy of the work of two French scholars, ethnomusicologist Gilbert Rouget and anthropologist Georges Lapassade, who conducted fieldwork in Salento in the 1980s. Rouget (1980, 2000) does not consider tarantism to be a healing ritual (exorcistic) allowing for the expulsion of an evil that the taranta symbolically represents. He instead suggests considering tarantism as a possession cult, in which, through trance, the identification between women and the spider occurs (an adorcistic ritual). The tarantate in fact imitate the spider assuming their posture and behavior in their dances: Rouget argues that this identification is an act of alliance with the spider through which the tarantate obtain protection against the evil, thus transforming and empowering themselves. Lapassade (1994, 2005) attempts to combine de Martino’s interpretation with Rouget’s arguing for the coexistence of both rituals: for him tarantism is an adorcistic ritual, which has lost the conscience of itself, as it was ‘masked’ as a healing ritual to avoid entering into conflict with the Catholic church. We see how, while de Martino’s tarantate are victims who suffer for ‘not being there’ and who need healing, for Roget and Lapassade they become subjects who ‘escape reality,’ through trance, and who thus empower themselves. These scholars were instrumental in the reversal of de Martino’s interpretation of tarantism by local scholars with whom they collaborated.
Local scholar Pierpaolo De Giorgi (1999), for instance, is the author of the book Tarantismo e rinascita (Tarantism and Rebirth), while Pellegrino (2004) wrote Il ritorno di Dioniso (The Return of Dionysus); the titles of these books are a clear indicator that they trace this phenomenon to archaic and Dionysian origins rooted in the mythologies of Magna Graecia. This is indeed their argument, which they pursue in a fashion that parallels the Griko activists’ attempt to disassociate the language from its negative past as a ‘language of shame’ and to connect it to Ancient Greek. However, there is more to it; for De Giorgi (1999:51) tarantism is “a philosophy of rebirth and a resource for survival” (my stress). In reality, de Martino talks not only about the “aggression of the hidden past” taking place in tarantism, but also of “the dream of renewal ... in harmony with the season” (de Martino 1961:60). Local scholars seem to have privileged this renewed interpretation of tarantism, one that subverts its negative stereotype and, most significantly, becomes the ideological basis for many of the claims of the current revival. Through the “dream of renewal,” the shift from “the land of remorse” to the ‘land of resource’ is finalized.
If the local reappropriation of de Martino’s work legitimized the revitalization of tarantism in new terms, another book was to become influential for local politicians in their pursuit of cultural tourism. This is Pensiero Meridiano (Southern Thought), by the sociologist Franco Cassano (1996) from Bari (Apulia). In it, the diversity of the South is presented in opposition to the homologizing ideologies of globalization, and as the tool to redefine the meaning of modernity and identity. Cassano argues that the ‘pathologies’ of the South of Italy and of the world do not depend on its deficit of modernity; they are rather the symptoms of what he defines as turbocapitalismo (turbo-capitalism): the forced race towards a type of modernity in which the rules are dictated always by ‘others,’ a race the ‘Southerns’ are bound to lose while becoming naufraghi prostituiti del sistema (prostituted castaways of the system). He instead proposes an alternative modernity evoking the value of ‘slowness,’ of traditions, and social networks, and invites readers to riguardare i luoghi of the South, which semantically means both ‘to look at places again’ and ‘to look after them’; this way the South will restore its prior dignity as an autonomous subject of its own thought. Cassano’s argument seems to be simultaneously a recognition and a challenge to Zeno’s paradox—to the logic through which Achilles can never catch the tortoise, as it were. The South will never be able to reach the North, which has a head start, and is destined to get closer to it only by imitation. Cassano seems to suggest that Achilles stop racing, as it were, to keep moving at his own pace; he proposes the pursuit of a kind of development that depends upon local resources, that does not try to simulate the North. [11]
At the hands of local politicians, Cassoni’s book has led “from the Southern thought to the Southern action” (Pizza 2002:46). It turned out that slowing the ‘pace’ was not the only issue; there also remained the issue of the destination of the journey. As we have seen, however, paradoxically (or maybe not) the process of the current revival has led to the commodification of the local cultural heritage. Caroli (2010:9) writes,
the alternative modernity pursued in Salento through the revitalization of traditions, building on Cassano’s theories, is not as alternative as one may believe, taking into account that the process remains embedded in the commodification that would strive to fight, or in any case, it creates another [commodification]. (my translation from French)
To be sure, local politicians do not try to deny it; Sergio Blasi admits that the identity portrayed by the UCGS is “an identity to live and to sell,” [12] in other words an identity that serves the needs of a touristic market in search of bucolic landscapes and essentialized identities. Elsewhere he argued that “[We do not] consider tradition as a sweet-box to be kept in the cupboard of our living-room with our best porcelain, but as an essential instrument to give sense and meaning to a potential growth and development of our territory” (my emphasis). [13]
In a critical reading of the impact of Cassano’s book on cultural politics, Berardino Palumbo defines it as a ‘political pamphlet’ replete with rhetorical strategies and metaphors, and he warns about the risk that such stereotypical models may be manipulated politically (2001:124). Cassano’s reference to Greece and to the Mediterranean culture as the origin of the “pensiero meridiano,” Palumbo argues, reproduce the very essentialized, stereotypical, and imaginary identities typical of modernity, which were constructed between the mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century by the very economic and political powers that Cassano sets out to criticize. The complicity of self-ascribing to the ideology of Mediterraneanism, however—as Herzfeld argues in relation to both Italy and Greece—needs to be read in wider neoliberal and geopolitical context, with respect to the struggle over what he defines as the “global hierarchy of value” part and parcel of the globalization process, and which affects local economies and lives (Herzfeld 2004:3–11). Crucially, not only does such a struggle affect them, it also interacts with pre-existing local issues. It cannot be ignored that in the case at hand, this process is simultaneously embedded in Italy’s long-lasting Southern Question—the presumed political and socio-cultural ‘backwardness’ of the South in relation to the North. From the perspective of local politicians, it seems that even this accommodation of the dominant logic of commodification tastes of redemption. Even the more recent and critical reading of the ‘orientalizing discourse’ on the South (see Schneider 1998) has been turned into a strategically portrayed self-orientalization. What remains interesting is the subversion of the persistent negative stereotypes into positive ones—and this was part of Cassano’s ideological and political project.
The cultural revival would seem to have achieved the aims that animated the activists of the middle revival: the past and its indexical manifestations (among which are Griko and pizzica) are now redeemed and turned into a route to a new future, simultaneously thanks to, and notwithstanding, their commodification. Playing with words we could say that the old categories of ‘honor’ and ‘shame’ applied by anthropologists to the first strands of Mediterranean studies have been replaced locally by one of ‘honor after shame.’ The current revival, however, have brought back to the fore and intensified debates about authenticity and authority, which were already latent in the ‘middle revival,’ creating ambiguities and contradictions within the community. Every local is in fact immersed in the dynamics of the revival; everyone is in what Hacking (1999:10) defines as “the matrix, within which an idea, a concept, or kind is formed,” that is the setting within which the idea of a ‘revived identity’ is socially constructed. Crucially, in what follows will emerge a picture of Grecìa Salentina far from the ‘homogenized’ one portrayed to outsiders. I will also argue against an equally essentializing picture of the locals as passive recipients, or as unsophisticated consumers of an ‘identity’ which has been ‘sold’ to them as much as to outside audiences.

On the eve of La Notte della Taranta

Massimo had invited me and a few other friends to a barbecue at his house in the countryside of Corigliano; he is a talented musician, and we often spend our summer nights singing, dancing, and of course, eating and drinking, while Massimo plays the guitar, Francesco the tamburello, and Luca, sometimes, the accordion. The party is assured. That night there was also the rehearsal for the final concert of la Notte della Taranta in Melpignano; as Massimo’s field is only two kilometers away from Melpignano we could hear the music and the songs rather well. As usual once the topic of la taranta emerged the discussion would take a long time, dividing the group between those who explicitly engage with the festival, playing in the concert or simply taking part in the party, and those who are more critical and who openly disassociate themselves from the dynamics it produces. That night the debate opened over the ‘abuse’ of external music influences in the concerts, which tend to alienate those more emotionally close to the traditional practices, so to speak; the hybridization of the Salentine music repertoire was indeed particularly contested locally in the first years of the folk festival. As the very term contaminazione (contamination) used locally attests, this debate is articulated around notions of pollution versus purity, setting those locals who were/are more critical toward the ‘contaminating’ influence, of different music genres against those who welcomed and welcome it. [14] Yet, even those more inclined towards the revival at times explode and say E mo’ basta cu sta pizzica (Salentine: and now it is enough with pizzica). That night Sandro kept listening and then broke out, “Ok guys, the question is a different one. Are we happy when we now mention Salento and everybody knows where it is? Yes, we are. Are we not happy to be proud of our music? Yes we are. And are we also happy when we rent a room to tourists in our house? So let’s keep listening to the rehearsal.” Clearly no one was paying attention to the music in the background.
Francesca intervened and accused Sandro of missing the point. He in turn accused her of the same. She said, “Last year, my grandparents listened to the concert on TV, they told me they recognized only one song or two. They cannot recognize their own music anymore!” Indeed, the “rhetoric of purity” (Pizza 2004:271) transcends aesthetic judgments of authenticity versus innovation, and brings us to the issue of intellectual property and authority over cultural expressions.
The ‘fight’ that night was to be between Sandro and Francesca. He promptly replied, reminding her that her grandparents were among those who echo the catchy phrase, “The taranta may be dead, Griko may be dying. But they are helping us live.” This kind of utilitarian comment is not uncommon either. Francesca tried once more to raise her voice: “But we are more than pizzica and tamburelli, and yet this is all we are known for! We have become a precooked meal for tourists! So, tomorrow your friends from England arrive, right Manu? Will they expect us to live with tarantulas and speak Griko to them?” Sandro left for a walk; I left for more wine. When I returned a few minutes later, Massimo had started playing the guitar; he usually honors our requests, so we started the usual repertoire of Italian songwriters and singers: De Andrè, Guccini, Bertoli, Gaber … At a certain point Michela requested Lu rusciu de lu mare. Francesco picked up his tamburello, Luca followed him, and before we knew it, we were singing and dancing pizzica. When Sandro returned from his reflexive walk, he found us carried away by the music; he was not going to add anything. He simply smiled at Francesca who smiled back while she kept dancing.
Caroli (2009), among others, has warned of the danger of commodification embedded in this process; she quotes Goffredo Fofi, who argues that “Salento is trendy now and Salentines enjoy this moment and do not seem to realize the dangers to themselves and to their land that this success brings along” (Fofi 2003, cited in Caroli 2009:13). Yet, the conversation between Francesca and Sandro is common in our nights at Massimo’s; I have witnessed similar conversations across the community that argue against an uncritical embrace of the revival or a blind acceptance of its consequences by the population at large. The contact with and the interest shown by outsiders has certainly enhanced self-reflection—locals become aware of what distinguishes them, they discover themselves, as it were—which in turn may promote a process of self-redefinition. ‘Pizzica’ has reentered—albeit in a renewed form—the experiential reality of the locals, who hear, sing, play, perform, and dance it. What I recorded ultimately shows the variety of reactions, which include a sense of empowerment and pride in the rediscovered value given to the local cultural heritage (music and language included). A sort of discursive pride, what has been defined as ‘Salentinite,’ is an effect of the revival, although at times it is bittersweet.
My friends here allude in fact to the ‘expectations’ about Salento that tourists have seemingly been fed, as when I was ironically asked whether my friends from England would expect to find us living with tarantulas and speaking Griko to them; they therefore lament and resist the essentialized identities often associated with Salento. Yet, they are aware that these ‘exotic traits’ are also strategically exploited by locals—including themselves! That a segment of the population has benefited from the current revival also in economic/occupational terms cannot be denied. This explains the sort of utilitarian comments such as “the Taranta may be dead, Griko may be dying, but they are helping us to live.” But then again, even those who discursively complain about the instrumentalization of the revival, and those ‘tired’ of its politics, would sing pizzica and play tamburello while having a barbecue at their country homes and just throw in a Griko word at the convenient moment, pointing to an enactment of ‘cultural intimacy’ (Herzfeld:1997). It therefore becomes paramount to critically evaluate the processes of co-construction of such ‘reified identities,’ and to analyze how locals may deploy, exploit but also resist them. [15] What we see at play here is ultimately the tension emerging from the struggle to comply with outsiders’ expectations while resisting being trapped in narrow and essentializing definitions. Portraying and reducing Salento to ‘just pizzica and Griko’ also means eclipsing other cultural expressions—musicians who do not deal with pizzica complain that they have a harder time establishing themselves professionally, for instance—and to divert attention from environmental issues that have increasingly been plaguing Salento.
The revival seems to have divided locals into colliding camps while they claim their own right to participate in the debate around it, revealing it in all its contradictions. Pizzica has begun to lose its appeal to the local public, both young and old. Young people start to get ‘tired’ of hearing ‘just’ pizzica everywhere; the elderly instead feel alienated as they do not recognize the very cultural practices they feel they have ‘authority’ over. Local politicians, marketers of the territory, and legislators are now the spokespeople, and are considered complicit in portraying an essentialized version of Salento, pizzica, and Griko, one that fails to grasp its complexity.

Criticizing the revival: Does the tarantula speak Griko?

The cultural association Ghetonìa is located on a narrow road in the historical center of Calimera, not far from the house that belonged to the philhellenist Vito Domenico Palumbo. It is almost hidden behind a very discreet front gate, but once you enter it, the typical Salentine courtyard appears before your eyes. All but one of the rooms surrounding the courtyard host the Casa-Museo della civiltà contadina e della cultura grika (Italian: the House-Museum of Rural and Griko Culture) with its permanent exhibition of material culture, featuring detailed descriptions in Italian and Griko. Silvano is the president of the association. He already knew of my work since I had been carrying out archival research in the association’s library, with its rich collection of newspapers articles dealing with Griko and Grecìa Salentina. He is, indeed, very proud of the library; he has been actively engaged in advancing the cause of Griko for over three decades, although he regrets that he does not speak any Griko, while he is fluent in MG.
As usual, he was sitting at his desk in the small office, which also serves as the reception area for the association and museum. I asked him to tell me more specifically about what was involved in getting funding to promote Griko. My question effectively offered him the chance to voice cultural activists’ general sense of dissatisfaction with the work of the UCGS, and with the current revival. He summarized the situation: “For decades, cultural associations and individual scholars worked hard to sensitize the general public to the importance of our traditions and language. This revival started off thanks to the associations, and to the cultural activists; and people started being proud of their own heritage.”
Silvano pointed out that in the first years after the establishment of the UCGS, there was a strong collaboration between institutions and local scholars and associations. It was an exciting moment: the programs of the UCGS proliferated with initiatives and a series of projects designed specifically for the promotion of the language and/or of the musical repertoire. Among them were a significant number of publications in or about Griko; a short-lived experience of a news broadcast in Griko; and a competition for newly composed songs with Griko lyrics and their promotion on local radio. Recalling his many years of cultural activity, he exclaimed, “I even wrote what I call the ‘book of dreams’ to give coherence to the various projects of cultural activists and associations across the territory. And that was in 1991! I was thrilled when it was adopted by the UCGS as a guideline for initiatives that are part of the European INTERREG II program Italy–Greece.”
The issue arose when it became clear that his projects were being ‘modified’ to comply with the regulations of the UCGS and with other requirements of the funding institutions, Silvano explained. Referring for instance to the establishment of the ‘Rooms of memory’ (Italian: Stanze della memoria), he stressed that these were designed to serve as information points for tourists who visit the villages, and who would be provided with brochures, leaflets, and promotional material; crucially, these “rooms” were to host a library of all the publications available in Griko for tourists to consult. His idea was to create tourist services by renovating historical buildings and typical houses in the historical center of the villages using the funding provided by the INTERREG program.
“You know what they did instead? They created new buildings; in fact they designed one building and then replicated that project for each village—huge buildings! ... And now we are stuck with these ‘cumbersome’ and ugly monsters. Instead of being ‘rooms of memory’ they are mausoleums!” Silvano sighed and continued to lament the poor financial management of which the ‘Rooms of memory’ are the most obtrusive example. [16] “Local administrators started managing European funding and the funding of the 482 law like they manage administrative funding! Culture cannot be managed in the same way ... culture has now become [merely] an accessory of the revival,” he concluded, very disappointed. The idyllic collaboration between cultural activists and the UCGS indeed had a short lifespan, and cultural activists soon started voicing their complaints about the UCGS’s insensitivity to their requests. For instance, they lament that no resources are invested in research or valorization activities—which on paper is the aim of The Foundation of the Night of the Tarantula. As Pizza (2004:219) argues with regard to music, the politics of the revival is not always able to retain control over the spaces that it creates.
Cultural activists accuse the UCGS of not valorizing their current efforts, while capitalizing on the work they carried out in the past. In this way, they disassociate themselves from the dynamics of the current revival and criticize it loudly, claiming instead a cultural expertise gained through years of activism. They particularly denounce the marginality of Griko within the festival of the Night of the Tarantula, since it is realized also through the financial support of the UCGS, and since it takes place mostly in Griko-speaking villages. On the one hand, cultural activists expect the UCGS to give the Griko repertoire and heritage pride of place; on the other, mother-tongue speakers sanction the interpretation of the few songs in Griko always performed during the festival. “[The singers] do not know how to sing in Griko, because they don’t know even what they are saying, they don’t pronounce well,” my parents’ neighbor ’Nzino (born in 1938) lamented. He was speaking for many others.
The criticism one hears more frequently refers to the instrumentalization of Griko by local politicians as a catalyst for fundraising, and to its exploitation as an ‘exotic identity’ in order to promote the territory and increase its touristic appeal. As Caroli (2010:5) reports, Massimo Manera, ex-mayor of Sternatia and ex-president of the UCGS, in fact defines Griko as “the raw material available to access a social, cultural, civic, but also economic development of the territory.” Cultural activists therefore denounce the current revival as an instrumental and managerial-type approach to culture. Going to the heart of the issue, Silvano put it this way:
Local politicians created the Night of the Tarantula, which works fine on a media level; but then they have been using all funding, everything, supranational, national, regional, everything. The Night of the Tarantula has cleaned out everything. Do you find it logical that a museum of popular traditions like the one Ghetonìa created does not get a penny from the municipality? We even [have to] pay the local property tax.
Indeed, what has been upsetting cultural activists is that the UCGS has invested its financial resources into the marketing and realization of the festival La Notte della Taranta. They accuse the UCGS of having ignored their projects by privileging such a big event—which attracts floods of tourists—rather than supporting the smaller realities and initiatives promoted by cultural associations. Characteristically, investment by the UCGS in the Easter calendar of I canti di Passione—in which The Passion of the Christ is performed in Griko—has indeed been less consistent over the years. In this sense the taranta is ‘cleaning out’ the funds destined for Griko. What may seem to be a metaphor for corruption is instead an accusation of poor management of financial resources, as well as of lack of expertise regarding the cultural heritage.
We see how on the one hand cultural activists consider the current revival to be the well-deserved reward for their decades of work; they fight to be recognized for sparking the revival, wanting to lay claims to cultural ownership and the management of the Griko cause and activities. Yet on the other hand, they accuse the UCGS of lacking the required cultural expertise to best invest the money and of having exploited their initiatives, only to manipulate their original claims and aims. These debates ultimately hide activists’ fears of losing control over cultural and linguistic ownership, and reveal tensions about the division of labor in the mechanism of the revival. There is in fact another element to take into account: cultural associations cannot apply directly for the funding provided by Law 482; the national law is earmarked specifically for schools and local authorities, and in the case of Griko, to UCGS; to access that funding, they had/have to submit a project proposal to the UCGS, which is then evaluated and may or may not be funded. Silvano told me that they were nostalgic for those past times in which cultural associations could apply directly to the European Union for funding via the European Bureau of Lesser-Used Languages or other funding bodies, without the bureaucratic mediation of the UCGS—part and parcel of the institutionalization of the revival—which they feel alienates them and deprives them of their own authority. Indeed, what appears to be a conflict over cultural ownership is also linked to access to resources. [17]

The interplay of language policies

Significantly, Griko activists complain that National Law 482 is not sensitive to the specificity of Griko as a “historical and cultural minority language.” Their argument is that the law was written with the ‘ethnic minority languages’ of the Italian Alps in mind, an area where there is ‘perfect bilingualism’. There, the need for interpreters and translators of minority languages to Italian is legitimate in the context of public administration and services, but in the case of Griko, the UCGS wasted that money, the argument goes—these are not the habitual domains of use of the language. Indeed, National Law 482 provides for concrete measures to be adopted in the fields of education, public administration, services, and media, without taking into account the historical specificities of each case, as well as the processes of language erosion and shift. Interestingly, the Italian Constitution (1948) itself does not neglect the subject of linguistic minorities. Article 3 affirms citizens’ equality regardless of their language, and Article 6 states that the Republic safeguards linguistic minorities with appropriate norms. Since National Law 482 emerged half a century after the constitution’s adoption, its effectiveness was in jeopardy, as during this period profound transformations affected the conditions of Italy’s minority-language speakers (see Chapter 2).
School teachers and cultural and language activists alike stressed to me the need for a regional law that would more specifically promote Griko’s documentation and preservation. In 2012 their request was met, when Regional Law 5, Norme per la promozione e la tutela delle lingue minoritarie (Italian) in Puglia passed. In addition to Griko, the “norms for the promotion and the safeguard of the linguistic minorities in Puglia” refers to the franco-provencal minority (in the province of Foggia), and the Arbëreshë minority (in the Foggia and Taranto provinces). [18] The regional law partly replicates the aims of National Law 482, effectively substituting it in the school domain; the major and crucial difference is that it provides funding directly to cultural associations—in addition to municipalities and schools—without the bureaucratic mediation of the UCGS. But in the application of the regional law other issues arose too, among them the lack of coordination among the various projects financed and realized in the various villages, and the lack of long-term planning. Since these projects’ sustainability depends on budgets that change every year, even the most successful of them is doomed to remain fragile, cultural activists lament. Nino from the cultural association La Bottega voiced his concern this way:
You know what happens? The region funds all projects in a sort of democratic distribution, without even evaluating them for their real contribution to the valorization of Griko. This way, all cultural associations, all municipalities of the villages get some of the funding. But this is the problem. This means that you apply with your project, but then the Region funds not even half of what you put in the budget. And you are still expected to realize the same project with half the money! You are bound to realize a mediocre project this way, and this is a waste of money.
Both legal provisions have also sparked complaints among Griko experts, who also highlight the limits of their application. School principals have their own complaints, and refer mainly to the unfair allocation of resources provided by National Law 482, since schools have on average received less than ten percent of what the UCGS received from the national law funds. The discrepancy is clear enough, and this leads school principals to argue that schools have been discriminated against by the very law that was meant to ‘protect’ the language, and thus its transmission. The issue of the funding protocol comes back to the fore; because of the bureaucratic procedures, each school may end up receiving the funding destined for Griko teachers as late as February—and the school year ends in early June. This may also mean (as has in fact happened) that Griko is taught for only twelve hours per year, effectively neutralizing the efforts of the teachers. Together with school principals, teachers also lamented the continuing reductions in financial resources provided by Law 482. Sandra, a Griko teacher from Corigliano, pointed out that the national funding was cut altogether for a couple of years, but she added, “Fortunately as soon as schools stopped receiving funding from National Law 482, the regional law passed and we [the school] started applying for and receiving funds through it. The thing is that the regional law funds a maximum of 10,000 euros per project, which means that schools are not motivated to apply collectively as a web of schools as they have done in the past.” As Sandra and members of cultural associations alike point out, the regional law does not favor collaboration and integration of activities within the villages of Grecìa Salentina.
Legal instruments, together with financial resources, were/are indeed necessary for the articulation of claims, but as Cowan argues (Cowan et al. 2001b:1), the rights model “has had complex and contradictory implications for individuals and groups whose claims must be articulated within its terms.” Indeed, if legitimation and recognition were supposed to give back to locals the control over their fate or to enhance self-determination, the unexpected consequence of these processes, and of the institutionalization of the revival, have been the reverse: the initial feeling of empowerment soon transformed into a feeling of loss of control over cultural ownership.
The multitude of voices I have presented in this chapter reveal how the management of the local cultural heritage produce tensions and no clear consensus among the locals. It ultimately shows the effects on the ground of the meeting and the clash of local claims, immersed as they are in a global frame of representation. In the next chapter I continue to treat such tensions, focusing specifically on the current ideological debates about Griko in which locals engage, reshaping time and again their relationship with the past and cultural heritage in the light of current concerns and wider expectations.


[ back ] 1. The rhythm accelerates at the end of the refrain—a strange addition, some locals complain, since the lyrics describe a sad love story.
[ back ] 2. See Brown 1998; Goodale 2005; Wright 2004, among others.
[ back ] 3. Professore Sicuro (whom I introduced in the previous chapter) was one of the founding fathers of CONFEMILI, the ‘Federation of Linguistic Minorities of Italy’ established in 1984. It is the acronym for Confederazione Italiana delle minoranze linguistiche, “Italian Confederation of Minority Languages.” It subsequently became the Italian division of the Bureau of Lesser Used Languages of Brussels (EBLUL).
[ back ] 4. In the wake of Avlèddha, an analogous association emerged in Sternatia called Astèria (Stars), founded in 1993 by Giorgio Filieri; he is a Griko teacher and one the finest connoisseurs of the language, which he has been actively researching and documenting for years. He is often invited to perform in Greece.
[ back ] 5. Strikingly, this sign contains a mistake. A Griko scholar pointed out to me that the Griko equivalent word would be kalòs ìrtato. This is most likely a mirroring effect of the MG kalòs ìrtate.
[ back ] 6. I attended Griko lessons in primary school, where the teacher explained to the children the symbolic meaning of this logo; the blue is also a symbol of the sea that unites the two lands of Grecìa Salentina and Greece; the olive tree leaf—put in the place of the accent—symbolizes peace and friendship between the two countries, in addition to being the predominant plant in both countries.
[ back ] 7. The slogan Salento d’amare was commissioned by the Province of Lecce as the official sponsor of the Lecce Sports Union, appearing on the T-shirts of the Lecce football team. However, it was also used in conjunction with all institutional activities of the province.
[ back ] 8. See Imbriani, 2015 on the creation and production of the musical event La notte della taranta.
[ back ] 9. Studies in this field have proliferated and the bibliography is extensive; see Pizza (1999, 2004, 2015) and Lanternari 1995, 2000 among others; for a treatment in English see Lüdtke 2009. For a review of the bibliography related to tarantism, see Mina and Torsello 2005. Among local scholars, see Chiriatti 1995, 1998; De Giorgi 1999; and Giorgio Di Lecce 1994, 2001.
[ back ] 10. De Martino’s ‘presence,’ as Saunders (1993) argues, is grounded in the ideas of Heidegger and Hegel, and is akin to that of Hegel’s ‘sense of self’ as a kind of ‘self-consciousness’: “Being in the world, that is maintaining oneself as an individual presence in society and in history, signifies action, the power of decision and of choice according to values” (De Martino 1959:98; I have used the translation by Saunders 1993:884). See Stewart 2012, 2013 for an application of the notion of the ‘crisis of the presence’ with reference to his study of the outbreak of dreams on the Greek island of Naxos. See also Farnetti and Stewart (2012).
[ back ] 11. Caroli (2009) ascribes this book in the current of 'neo-meridionalism' and building on Amselle (2008), more specifically of sudalternismo (South-alternism).
[ back ] 12. In Santoro and Torsello 2002.
[ back ] 13. From the introduction to La tela infinita (Mina and Torsello 2005).
[ back ] 14. See Lüdkte 2009 for a discussion of the ‘hybridization’ of the local folk music repertoire and the fractures it generates.
[ back ] 15. See Herzfeld 1992 on stereotypes.
[ back ] 16. It seems this occurred because the deadline to apply for the funding was approaching and there was not enough time to develop projects specific to each village.
[ back ] 17. During one of our more recent encounters, however, Silvano was more optimistic about future collaborations with the UCGS, since in 2017 the UCGS selected a project proposed by cultural association Ghetonìa for the publications of three notebooks by Vito Domenico Palumbo. These contain popular songs, fairy tales, and the Griko dictionary, collected by Palumbo during the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, and transcribed into Greek characters, which he had sent to the Philological Circle of Constantinople in order to participate in several editions of the Competition of Greek Poetry and Literature.
[ back ] 18. The regional law is the result of the lobbying of Sergio Blasi, the ex-mayor of Melpignano and regional councilman for the Democratic Party (PD) at the time of writing. Local authorities, individual municipalities, cultural associations, and schools can apply for and benefit from the funding provided annually by the law for initiatives related to: (a) the safeguarding, recovery, preservation, and valorization of the respective minority languages and related historical cultural heritage through research activities in history and linguistics, publication, and/or dissemination of related studies; (b) the teaching of minority languages in schools; and (c) TV, radio, and the press.