Magic in the Mezzogiorno: The Anthropology of Ernesto De Martino

Dorothy Louise Zinn (Università degli Studi della Basilicata)

Ernesto De Martino (1908-1965) is widely acknowledged to be a founding figure of cultural anthropology in Italy, and yet his work remains almost entirely unknown in English-speaking countries. A brilliant and eclectic thinker, De Martino conducted several research expeditions in Southern Italy and the ethnographies he wrote remain classic works in Italian humanities. Employing a multidisciplinary perspective, De Martino’s approach to potions and healing charms, and the dancing frenzy induced by the bite of the Apulian taranta, embraced religious history, folklore, ethnopsychiatry, and ethnomusicology. Anthropologist Dorothy Louise Zinn, who translated and annotated De Martino’s The Land of Remorse: A Study of Southern Italian Tarantism (Free Association, 2005), will discuss his research on the magical world of Southern Italian peasantry.