2021Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/24046
Performing and Re-enacting Southern Italian Lament: Ritual Mourning and the Migration of Images in the Mediterranean
An-Institute und nicht zur HU gehörige Einrichtungen
Funerary lament and ritual weeping are multi-sensorial public expressions of grief that are often referred to as examples of cultural continuity in and across the Mediterranean. In the 1950s, anthropologist Ernesto de Martino and his team assembled a unique set of photos and sound and film recordings on lament in Southern Italy in an attempt to verify that contemporary forms of mourning did not just resemble ancient funerary laments but were actual relics thereof. Departing from these audio-visual materials, this essay traces recurring patterns and sequences of images and sounds related to lament in Southern Italy, arguing that the (female) body of the performers becomes the main medium of iconographic and choreographic reproduction by way of re-enacting and imitating lament in staged settings. Rather than studying the phenomenon of lament in itself (or its decline) or commenting on the continuity thesis, I focus on the mediatised transmission of corporeal expressions of lamenters by drawing on Aby Warburg’s concept of the “migration of images” (Bilderwanderung). I include artistic approaches and modes such as re-enactment, performance, and montage in my ethnographic study of ritual mourning and show that there is a repertory of ecstatic gestures transferred through command performances that is not concerned with “authentic” documentation. Instead, these gestures are there to be performed, individually reappropriated, and revived in situations of crisis to the present day.
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published first as (erstmalig folgendermaßen erschienen): Michaela Schäuble: “Performing and Re-enacting Southern Italian Lament: Ritual Mourning and the Migration of Images in the Mediterranean”. In: Zeitschrift für Ethnologie / Journal of Social and Cultural Anthropology 146.1–2 (2021), Special Issue “Rethinking the Mediterranean”, pages 53–74. Die Zweitveröffentlichung dieses Artikels unter der Lizenz Creative Commons Namensnennung 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) erfolgte mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Reimer Verlags.