Civiltà e Religioni (2021) n. 7

ISBN 9788833596426-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1 Categoria Tag
ISSN: 2421-3152
Anno: Dicembre 2021
Rivista n.: 7
Pagine: 446
Rivista: Rivista Civiltà e Religioni


a cura della Redazione di Civiltà e Religioni

The Manichaean religion was characterized by a diffused medical symbolism, because of its practical concerns of salvation. For instance, Mani introduced himself with the epiteth of “physician”, in order to explain his charismatic power of healing, especially for the soul but also with significant references to the dieseases of the body (fever, tremors, madness). Thus, many doctrinal aspects were imbued with a medical-surgical imagery, to describe within Manichaean texts the process of separation and purification of the Light from the Darkness, of the Soul from the Matter, and the final achievement of the redemption.

Starting with the letters of the patriarch Timothy I in the cultural milieu of Gundēšāpūr, this paper presents some literary sources which seem to attest to the existence of a strong tradition developed within a long chain of medical transmission in south-western Iran during late-antiquity. This paper will present some excerpts from the medical Compendium of Ǧūrǧīs ibn Bokhtīšoʻ (a combination of Greek and Indian traditions preserved in the Comprehensive Book of ar-Rāzī), from the medical Compendium of the Ḫūz (the so-called “physicians of Gundēšāpūr”), from the texts that represent an interface between Greek and Indian medical learning such as the Qahramān or The Indo-Persian Medical Compendium of al-Fārisī, and from the medical Compendium of Ǧibrīl ibn Bokhtīšoʻ quoted in the work of Bar Bahlūl. The paper also touches upon the references to Khūzistān medicine in aṭ-Ṭabarī’s Firdaus al-ikma, and to the Barmakids’ hospital in Baghdad, where Sanskrit medical texts were translated and transmitted.

Regardless of time, place, and culture, alchemy has enjoyed a ménage à trois. On the one hand it has boasted the ability to find the panacea, that is, a universal cure for the body, thus claiming parentage to medicine. On the other hand, by declaring perfect knowledge of nature as its ultimate goal, the alchemical quest has been seen as a mystical way to find a cure for the soul, too. The aim of this essay is to shed light on the relationship of alchemy to medicine and religion through the case study of Elias Ashmole’s Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum. Published in London in 1652, the Theatrum is an early modern bestseller as well as the largest anthology of alchemical poetry in the English language. I will show that alchemy had both practical as well as spiritual connotations which only apparently could be regarded as incompatible with one another. After a short biographical introduction, this essay will consider, first, the historiography of alchemy; secondly, the practical uses of alchemy according to Ashmole; and, thirdly, the relevance of alchemy to his religious beliefs. Thus, the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum will elucidate some of the reasons for which the relation of alchemy, medicine and religion was an unproblematic ménage à trois.

The aim of this article is to analyze community participation as a form of health protection and promotion by focusing on the grassroots actions that emerged in Bologna during last year’s lockdown period in the context of the COVID-19 emergency. In so doing, both the concepts of health and care will be problematised. Specifically, health will be presented as a cultural construct (as it depends on what gives value to people’s lives) that is socially generated (through the involvement of social actors); care will leave the conceptual space of biomedicine to move towards a collective definition of agency. Participation will thus emerge as crucial both for the definition of needs and their care.

This paper is divided into two parts. In the first, theoretical part, it deals with the anthropological analysis of the effectiveness of language, from Bronislaw Malinowski, a “classic” which laid innovative and foundational ground for the study of magic in the mid-thirties of the twentieth century, returning a ponderous ethnographic analysis of Trobrianders’ coral gardens. The notions of realtà dei poteri magici, by Ernesto de Martino (1948), and that of efficacité symbolique, by Claude Lévi-Strauss (1949), will be then examined in order to reach the more recent work by Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah and that one by Carlo Severi, on the same theme. In the second part, ethnographic, we will reconsider some results of an ethnography of scongiuri, based on a research carried out by the author in Campania (Southern Italy) on women’s bodies, and compared throughout Italy and Europe. We will refer also to more recent ethnographies – conducted in Romania after those carried out in Northern France by Jeanne Favret-Saada – on the processes of communication of deadly or soothing words. The conclusion opens with a critical reading of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s essay, Il sacramento del linguaggio. Archeologia del giuramento, published in 2008, which constituted the contribution II, 3 to his monumental work Homo Sacer, published in twenty years and in seven volumes. The main aim of this paper is to show how we can start from a non-symbolic effectiveness of the words spoken to relaunch a new medical anthropology of healing spells.

In the field of addictions specific attention is more or less directly focused on the rehabilitation and therapeutic paths offered by the designated structures of the National Health Service. This paper, based on a still ongoing research conducted in Tuscany, aims to explore the readings and interpretations of addiction treatments, expressed by different kinds of social actors involved and operating in the therapeutic field: operators, doctors and patients. The analysis of their narratives and practices allows us to reflect on specific themes and frames characterizing the “cure” relationship, sometimes full of tensions, especially for what concerns the treatment. Moreover, the ethnography enables to intersect the representations reproduced by social actors, showing their allochronic nature.

The Italian regions have a long history of local healers and folk witches, also known as Segnatori. Shrouded in folklore and secrecy, these traditions are still alive and practised across the country, especially in the countryside. Data collected during four years of fieldwork between 2016 and 2020 suggest that folk magic has been concealed within and reshaped by the boundaries dictated by the dominant religious system and the cultural framework, I will argue that this practice is ingrained in the life of local Italian communities, somehow framing the way people explain their sense of religiosity or lack thereof. The matter of an evolving syncretism* – from Catholicism to Paganism** – will also be addressed as a key element to confirm the resilience of such traditions. Lastly, I will analyse the significance of their enduring core for the conceptualisation of magic found in the cultural fabric.

This paper aims to analyze the «National Pact for an Italian Islam, expression of a community which is open, integrated and compliant to the values and principles of the State system», which was negotiated by the Council for Relations with Italian Islam, on the initiative of the Italian government, with some of the Islamic communities in Italy, to create the framework of a widespread action for fighting radicalization. Starting from the reconstruction of the environmental background and through the analysis of the provisions of the «Pact», this paper aims to examine the political and religious agendas of the subjects (institutions, religious communities) which brought this agreement to life. This will be done in order to verify: 1. what is the theoretical and practical framework which characterizes the agreement, 2. how the «Pact» can be conceived as a kind of mediation within a specific framework of state-religious communities relations, and 3. which developments can enrich the process in terms of legitimization and recognition.

In the ever-living debate concerning Emperor Julian (361-363), special attention is paid to historical sources about this figure and, among these, to Ammianus Marcellinus’ Res gestae, an unmatched Late Antiquity historical depiction wherein Julian is the protagonist. According to several scholars, Ammianus would have given a faithful and fair testimony, that is supposed to be distant from the enthusiastic idolizing of some hellenes, as well as from the christians’ sectarian slander. The aim of this paper is rather to stress the narrative and rhetorical strategy of Ammianus, more interested in creating an exemplum “politically expendable” for his own times. In order to do so, the historian refunctionalizes the memory and the acts of Julian in view of the new political context, the particular ambitions and the political projects of Roman élite to which he was attached. I will thus have the opportunity to deepen some of the crucial changes of Late Roman Empire: the religious acting of Emperor Julian and his relationship with the Roman aristocracy, as well as the reactions to the defeat of Adrianople and the rise of Theodosius, the Christianization of the imperial institutions.

Through the analysis of literary, mythical, and ritual sources, this paper outlines the ideological and religious heritage that bound the fate of cities to the “physical” presence of their deities in the ancient Mesopotamia. The aim is to investigate how and why the divinities were asked to regulate the earth’s space, by constantly renewing the order that they had established in the illud tempus of the origins. At the same time, the reflection focuses on the strategies adopted by men to modify and manage city space without losing the divine benevolence, and thus preventing the gods from abandoning their earthly abodes.

This article intends to offer a synthetic overview of the human-animal relationship in Japan as reflected in philosophic and religious thought, in socio-cultural practices, in antique literature, in image culture, and in the Japanese adoption of western scientific methods. Japan’s traditional concepts of nature and animals depend, first of all, on the country’s environmental condition, then on the animistic-immanent vision of Shint?, the native religion, and last but not least, on the cultural influences from imported doctrines, namely Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism. In Edo-period Japan (1600-1868), China’s encyclopaedism and its classification system of flora and fauna were adopted in Japan by Neo-Confucian scholars, who used and adapted their taxonomic organisation for producing important, pre-scientific works. During the 17th-19th centuries, the Dutch presence in Japan was instrumental for the rise of “western studies” (y?gaku) in the late 18th century: influential Japanese scholars, thinkers and artists assimilated the scientific method based on direct observation and research made possible, among other, by optical instruments such as the microscope. The profound maturation of these acquisitions brought forth important local adaptations in the evolutionary theory, first during modernisation in the Meiji era (1868-1912), and then in the contemporary age, around the mid-20th century.

Internet and the development of new media and technologies have deeply changed the way we communicate all over the world. These changes affect multiple aspects of our lives, including religious practices. However, it is still a matter of study and discussion which are the implications when religious rites take place in a highly mediatised environment. The ritual celebrations for the Assumption of Mary in Guardia Sanframondi (province of Benevento, Southern Italy) are an emblematic case study to address this issue. These rites, which occur every seven years, are the most widely attended penitential rites in Europe and occur in a highly mediatised environment. I discuss and present my methodological choices, explaining why the approach known as ‘communicative constructivism’ is the most suitable in addressing the relationship between media change and religion in its different forms, rather than approaches that see religion as such that pre-exist outside the subjects.

This paper investigates how nostalgia, a particular form of memory tied to food, determines the ways of being and acting in/on the world of the elderly people who live in Cilento, an area of the Campania region that it is located in the south of the city of Salerno. The investigation originates from the analysis of ethnographic material, in particular interviews recorded on audiovisual support, collected during a broader ethnographic research I have been engaged to since 2018. The hypothesis that is advanced through the “reading” of the biographical narratives of the subjects of the study is that food is a particular vehicle of memory due to its ability to connect the intimate and public space. Memory plays a fundamental role in the definition of identities, not so much because it remembers historical moments that one lived, personal or collective, but because it is presentified through different strategies that attribute meaning to existence, making it a constitutive element of identity constructions. Together, food and memory structure the experience of individuals and social groups.

Clifford Geertz believes that «Doing ethnography is like trying to read […] a manuscript – foreign, faded, full of ellipsis […] but written not in conventionalized graphs»*, so that the person who writes affirms that an anthropologist of theatre can imagine a play which she has never seen. From the Italian theatrical crisis of the mid-nineteenth century emerged a particular theatrical reality: Carmelo Bene. I observed how his poetical working, in relation to a vertical alterity, brought to a revitalization of that theatrical ritual which occurs between scene and stalls in the specific space of the Italian Theatre. Carmelo Bene brought about an artistic research so rigorous that, today, it can be mixed with the most recent developments in anthropological thoughts and, analyzing the examples of mystical Saints, Carmelo Bene experimented a view which can be compared to the anthropological one.