Passeggiata and Popular Culture in an Italian Town: Folklore and the Performance of Modernity

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, Apr 2, 2004 - Social Science - 183 pages
An immigrant daughter who returned to her mother's home town, Giovanna Del Negro spent a year doing intensive fieldwork in the homes and public spaces of Sasso. She reveals the diverse reactions that Sassani have to industrialization, changing gender roles, immigration, and the proliferation of the global media. Unlike accounts that focus exclusively on large-scale social forces or universal theories of historical change, this study, set against the backdrop of Italy's mid-1990s corruption scandals, centres on the experiences of ordinary people and the culturally specific ways that modernity reveals itself in a particular place. Del Negro focuses on the passeggiata, and her evocative descriptions of dressing, walking, courting, and socializing in the piazza paint a vivid picture of this event. Sassani pride themselves on their urbane sophistication, only half jokingly referring to their town as "our little Paris." Del Negro shows how different segments of Sassani society (older women and teenage girls, motorbike boys and established professionals) use passeggiata performances to depict themselves as modern, stake their place in the town's collective self-image, and debate the meaning of modernity. Examining everything from Sassani interpretations of tabloid television and soap operas to community games and postcards, Del Negro casts her net wide to illuminate the local culture. Richly sophisticated yet highly accessible, this innovative study speaks to contemporary debates about modernity and globalization.

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About the author (2004)

Giovanna P. Del Negro associate professor of English, Texas A & M University, and past co-editor of the Journal of American Folklore.

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