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The Good Cousins' Domain of Belonging: Tropes in Southern Italian Secret Society Symbol and Ritual, 1810-1821

Anthony H. Galt
Man
New Series, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 785-807
DOI: 10.2307/3033969
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033969
Page Count: 23
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The Good Cousins' Domain of Belonging: Tropes in Southern Italian Secret Society Symbol and Ritual, 1810-1821
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Abstract

Taking seriously J.M. Roberts's suggestion that early nineteenth-century secret society lore might profitably be analysed using anthropological insights, this article examines the poetics of southern Italian carbonaro discourse as expressed between about 1810 and 1821. It explores the aptness of various tropes (metaphor, irony, metonym) to carbonaro goals and to carbonaro identity during this turbulent period. It shows that apprentice-level ritual and symbolism reflected Turner's concepts of structure and anti-structure (and communitas). Both carbonaro ideology and Turner's concepts are explored critically in light of ironic contradictions arising from contrasts between ideology and practice. Finally, the article discusses master-level appropriation of a central Christian trope (Christ's Passion), which sharply challenged the status que while invoking town and neighbourhood symbolism. This is shown as having been apt to the more politically committed among carbonari.

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