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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter April 7, 2015

Rethinking folklore as economical pattern: Overview of sustainable, creative and popular strategies in Italian domestic life

  • Lia Giancristofaro
From the journal Human Affairs


The way in which folklorists study their “scientific subject”, that is the creativity and the rich ways people attach meanings to their existence, has often been considered to be static and decontextualized. An interest in popular culture for propaganda purposes is associated with past regimes. Therefore, the notion of “folklore” still carries contradictory meanings and connotations. The author starts from a debate prompted in Italy by Alberto M. Cirese: in recent decades, Italian “native” ethnology has focused on endangered village traditions rather than opening itself up to new instances of cultural change. The main risk was misrepresenting the methodology proposed by Antonio Gramsci in 1929. Today Italian research into folklore places the subject of “folklore” in its broadest context, investigating developments in society associated with the shift from a peasant to an industrial society, and embarking on additional research domains through transnational cultures. This research draws on the growing interest in cultural heritage in the public sphere, and, simultaneously, draws on recent advances in the study of uses of culture and memory. The paper studies two aspects of daily life: pure yarn handmade clothes and ornaments, and long-life tomato sauce. The study concludes that contemporary everyday folklore takes on many free and unofficial forms that call for a renewed approach. To evaluate the multiplicity of folklore meanings and their capacity to integrate interactions between the traditional and the contemporary in specific contexts, the author explores the practicality of a new idea of folklore as sustainable, popular, domestic creativity using material and immaterial goods. This idea implies a rethink of the concept of heritage and of the complexity of its increasingly official, bombastic and rhetorical manifestations


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Published Online: 2015-04-07
Published in Print: 2015-04-01

© Institute for Research in Social Communication, Slovak Academy of Sciences

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