The High Priestess

The Spider Dance - Tradition, Time and Healing in Southern Italy - Giovanna Parmigiani

Giovanna Parmigiani [+-]
Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University
Giovanna Parmigiani holds a Ph.D. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of Toronto, and is Senior Fellow at Harvard Divinity School (Harvard University).


This chapter presents the particular historicity found among the women of the cerchio that the author calls the “expanded present.” She narrates her own journey as a pizzica novice, and describes in greater detail the cerchio’s relationship with pizzica. In doing so, she relies, on the one hand, on the ethnographic materials gathered among the women of the cerchio. On the other hand, she locates and explains the “expanded present” historicity in dialogue with the works of Augustine of Hippo, Erich Auerbach, and Walter Benjamin. In particular, the author focuses on the notion of figura in Auerbach, and on that of “dialectical image” in Benjamin. The overall claim is that “pre-modernity” is not the only alternative to “modernity.” As the ethnographic material suggests, there are “non-modern” experiences and beliefs embedded in contemporary “modern” Europe. While “non-modern,” they are not necessarily “pre-modern.”

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Parmigiani, Giovanna. The High Priestess. The Spider Dance - Tradition, Time and Healing in Southern Italy. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. May 2023. ISBN 9780000000000. Date accessed: 24 Jan 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.40113. May 2023

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