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Title: Come un’isola ricorda : riflessioni dal fieldwork
Authors: Monteforte, Virginia
Keywords: Anthropology -- Malta
Collective memory -- Malta
Malta -- Politics and government -- 20th century
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: University of Malta. Department of History
Citation: Monteforte, V. (2009). Come un’isola ricorda. Riflessioni dal fieldwork. Journal of Maltese History, 1(2), 88-99
Abstract: The relation between anthropology and history, as well as that between history and social memory, have always been controversial, because of what may be termed a reciprocal amnesia, or worse, the confusion of roles and spaces. Well before its “reflexive turn” anthropology, albeit aware of the importance of history, produced descriptions of isolated populations immersed in a timeless present or representing their past through cyclical and repetitive schemes. This was congenial to a simultaneity hyphen based analysis where myths, rites, kinship and so on could be routed in the same logic. Moreover the indistinct and narrative face of every oral and autobiographical testimony, its subjectivity, and the lack of a shared method in the witness recollection only made things worse. Nevertheless, the critical use of the different disciplines could permit a more complex and articulate understanding of past and present structures through which a collectivity represents and communicates itself and its values, reiterating the same configuration and discovering other ways to rethink it. As shown in interviews carried out with two Maltese informants, the local interpretative and reified structure of the Maltese milieu assumes the definite and accepted shape of a political “irresoluble” opposition, traces the paths and the steps of a life story, organizes in a divided vision a certain temporal course. But the possibility to delve deep in the complexity of each particular narrative can also make a breach for further, alternative and more complex representations of their context, both synchronic and diachronic. The study is based on a long term fieldwork in Malta. The main sources are the narratives of a good number of informants. My sample was based on a number of criteria including and depending on the position occupied in the political and cultural field, as well as the networks they are embedded in. They belonged both to the official, institutional field rather than the popular one and come from every part of the island. I met some of them only for one formal taped interview, while with others I managed to entertain a more engaged relation consisting of multiple meetings during which the level of reciprocal trust grew into ever stronger confidence. The fieldwork includes also participation in political meetings and public events as well as indepth analyses of written sources.
Appears in Collections:JMH, Volume 1, No. 2 (2009)
JMH, Volume 1, No. 2 (2009)

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