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Epistemologies of Healing
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Dances with Spiders
Crisis, Celebrity and Celebration in Southern Italy
224 pages, 19 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-84545-445-6 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (December 2008)
eISBN 978-1-84545-875-1 eBook
“Overall, this book is very well researched and beautifully written. It is a great resource for all—scholars and laypeople—interested in Italian culture and folklore, medical anthropology, and the relationship between the performing arts and healing.” · Italian American Review
“The author’s poetical, yet not rhetorical, prose gives the book’s ambitious project a fluent and realistic description that makes you feel as if sitting among the olive trees in Salento or admiring the baroque stuccos of Galatina. ..As a reader one is impressed by how respectful and rigorous is the author’s description of the homes of the “Tarantati” and by her attempt to reach their psychic sufferance.” · Nordic Journal of Music Therapy
“In sum, Karen Lüdtke's Dances with Spiderssheds clear and compelling light on how (and why) ancient rituals change over time and serve contemporary needs. Well written and engaging, the author weaves wit into her work... [that] points the way for future research by getting at the real people that postmodern anthropology tends to overlook. Finally, it raises questions that merit further study.” · The Catholic Historical Review
For centuries, the rite of the tarantula was the only cure for those ‘bitten’ or ‘possessed’ by the mythic Apulian spider. Its victims had to dance to the local tarantella or ‘pizzica’ for days on end. Today, the pizzica has returned to the limelight, bringing to the forefront issues of performance, gender, identity and well-being. This book explores how and why the pizzica has boomed in the Salento and elsewhere and asks whether this current popu- larity has anything to do with the historic ritual of tarantism or with the intention of recovering well-being. While personal stories and experiences may confirm the latter, a vital shift has appeared in the Salento: from the confrontation of life crises to the vibrant promotion and celebration of a local sense of identity and celebrity.
Karen Lüdtke received her DPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford. Aspects of her research on the performance arts and well-being in the context of the Salento have been published in the edited volumes Music as Medicine(Ashgate, London) and Performing Ecstasies(Institute for Mediaeval Music, Ottawa).
Subject: Medical AnthropologyPerformance Studies
Area: EuropeSouthern Europe
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