Evan Calder Williams, Alberto Toscano

The Southern Line. The «Meridione» and the Limits to Periodisation

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Meridione; Nationality; Ernesto de Martino; Archaism; Periodisation.

Anti- and post-colonial critiques have frequently had occasion to note how a Eurocentric imaginary projects the temporal axis of civilizational or industrial retardation onto a geographical scale of latitudes and biomes. This essay revisits the stakes of this tendency through a concrete material and political prism, the Italian meridione, which not only signified a developmental problem for the modernist and fascist project of nation- and state-making but also became a crucial political touchpoint in two distinct ways. First, its supposedly «archaic» or «pre-political» dimensions could be envisaged by anthropologists and militants alike as a reservoir of anti-systemic energies, as in Ernesto de Martino's engagement with the subaltern debate. Second, the difference of the South was articulated in terms of a «Southern technics» visible in ad hoc and counterintuitive uses of objects, especially as delineated in the 1920s writings of Walter Benjamin and Alfred Sohn-Rethel.

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