by Alessandro Testa
Carolina Academic Press, 2023
Cultural heritage, public rituality, and novel or unconventional religious practices have recently acquired an unprecedented centrality in Europe. Stemming from the past but operating in the present and branching out towards the future, these phenomena can function as catalysers of cultural synergy (or conversely cultural resistance) vis-à-vis the tectonic sociocultural changes of our late modern era. They do this by shaping new imaginaries and discourses, moulding senses of typicity and traditionality, and structuring feelings of authenticity and social belonging that lie at the very core of European local communities. All of these and other kin processes are conjured up and conveyed by symbols, the immaterial substance of which cultural life is made.
This book analyses these themes from the perspective of social anthropology and European ethnology. The workings and entanglements of cultural heritage, popular beliefs and practices, the invention of new symbols, and ritual forms of collective action are all hereby explored ethnographically and comparatively, while the concepts that we use to define and characterise them are thoroughly rethought and theorised. This book also systematises and reviews the conceptual state of the art of these terms and ideas, which are fundamentally crucial in the understanding of European cultures today. Notions of “rituality,” “cultural heritage,” and “re-enchantment,” for instance, are the object of special scrutiny.