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Book: The Spider Dance

Chapter: La Papessa / The High Priestess

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.40113


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.”

Chapter Contributors

  • Giovanna Parmigiani ([email protected] - giovannaparmigiani) 'Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University'