This article is based on research that was initiated in 2010 in Serino, a town in Bassa Irpinia in the province of Avellino, investigating the traditional carnival celebration and the ways it has changed withinthe context of local and global patrimonialization processes. Folklore scholars are familiar with this area (which covers Serino as well as several other municipalities, including Montemarano, Bellizzi, Mercogliano, etc.) as the site of carnivals featuring masks as well as the symbolic and performative elements typical of folkloric carnivals in Europe, with which Serino-area celebrations share multiple aesthetic and formal features. Over the last half century these carnivals, locally organized within smallcommunities, have alternated between periods of revitalization (with the studies by Roberto de Simone and Annabella Rossi conducted in the 70s), decline and subsequent local revival, beginning in the 1990s. These local carnivals involve theatrical enactments and moments of social interaction among the people as well as the sharing of musical and dance practices; today, they represent expressions of “intangible cultural heritage” that are rooted in the present thanks to their ability to generate “heritage communities" and become expression of cultural creativity and social cohesion in public space. At the same time, they are also the site of conflict and competition among different groups. In recent years this area has been involved in a move to patrimonialize carnival that has given rise to multiple networks within the larger carnival “heritage communities”. One of these networks is Carnevale Princeps Irpino, an experiment in dialogue among 9 different villages built by civil society actors with an awareness of the intangible cultural value of local carnivals. The network’s goal is the safeguarding of musical, dance and theatrical expression while respecting diversity, but to do so with an eye to broader dialogue and intergenerational transmission.
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