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Accepted Paper:

Re-imagining the past as strategy of future-making in Southern Italian Tarantism  


Anja Dreschke (University of Duesseldorf)
Michaela Schäuble (University of Bern)

Paper short abstract:

How are popular religious practices in contemporary tarantism re-invented as potential cultural, political and economic resources of future-making? What role does the remediation of ethnographic imagery of the past play in these processes? How are ethnographic images reappropriated and remediated?

Paper long abstract:

Apulian Tarantism as a particular form of music therapy has always been used as a strategy to cope with individual as well as collective crises and insecurities, especially in times of social change and instability. In our paper we seek to explore the promises and aspirations related to the re-invention of tarantism as potential cultural, political and economic resource in contemporary Apulia, Southern Italy. During the last decade, interest in tarantism has increased exponentially. Encouraged by local cultural institutions and curatorial residency programs, the former religious healing practice has become a multi-media event re-appropriated by local actors such as the Club UNESCO, neo-tarantate as well as the transnational music and art scene. Especially in the art world there is a downright hype surrounding tarantism, including internationally held workshops, performances and concerts. Once (mis-)conceived as a localised psychopathology, the phenomenon has recently been recontextualised as a form of resistance or rebellion in the much wider political framework of colonial and patriarchal oppression.

The main focus of our paper lies on the important role of (re)-mediation of ethnographic imagery of the past in this process of transformation and re-imagination. How do local actors and transnational artists make use of archival sound and image material of tarantism? And how do these images shape the perception of the past? Drawing on our own audio-visual material as well as documentation of recent artistic (re-)appropriatioons, we explore the various media technologies that are used to evoke a new vision of tarantism as practices of future-making.

Panel P121
Filming Futures: ethnographic film and future-making in critical contexts [FAN and VANEASA]