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Corsican Fragments

Difference, Knowledge, and Fieldwork

Matei Candea

Publication Year: 2010

The island of Corsica has long been a popular destination for travelers in search of the European exotic, but it has also been a focus of French concerns about national unity and identity. Today, Corsica is part of a vibrant Franco-Mediterranean social universe. Starting from an ethnographic study in a Corsican village, Corsican Fragments explores nationalism, language, kinship, and place, as well as popular discourses and concerns about violence, migration, and society. Matei Candea traces ideas about inclusion and exclusion through these different realms, as Corsicans, "Continentals," tourists, and the anthropologist make and unmake connections with one another in their everyday encounters. Candea's evocative and gracefully written account provides new insights into the dilemmas of understanding cultural difference and the difficulties and rewards of fieldwork.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: New Anthropologies of Europe


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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

My first thanks go to my neighbors and friends in “Crucetta”, both Corsican and Continental, for their kindness during my stay there in 2002–2003. As an anthropologist, I learnt much from them about the challenges and rewards of living together in one place that is also many places—and this I have tried to set down in this book. But as a disorientated 22-year old, I learned much more from ...

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Prologue: Roadmap

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pp. 1-8

There is a venerable tradition in British social anthropology which requires that theoretical argument be woven implicitly into descriptive writing. This does not boil down merely to the rhetorical pursuit of an “empirical style”: instead, an argument emerges slowly at the pace at which one reads a careful description and gets infused with the complexity of detail through which it is filtered. Somewhat unexpectedly ...

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1 Arbitrary Location

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pp. 9-37

The house known as “the Englishwoman’s house” (la maison de l’anglaise) stands empty. “The Englishwoman,” l’anglaise, died two years before my arrival in the Corsican village I will call “Crucetta,” and the ocher house with blistered light-green shutters has recently acquired new owners: the Viltanés, a family from the Continent, who plan to spend their summer holidays here once they have “done the ...

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2 Mystery

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pp. 39-68

March 2002. The waiting room dedicated to Corsican flights in the Parisian airport of Orly is an unprepossessing sight. Spaces devoted to domestic flights are always something of a poor relation in large international airports, and this is no exception: the seats are shabby and the floor has not been swept for some time. Moving from the brightly lit bustle of the main airport hall into this quiet room, where a mere ...

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3 Place

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pp. 69-84

I had been living in Crucetta for ten months when, on the afternoon of 29 June 2003, my upstairs neighbor Marie-Paule hailed me from her window as I wandered homeward. Marie-Paule is a tall, thin woman in her mid-forties, always impeccably dressed, with a keen sense of humor, and she was one of the first people to welcome me to the neighborhood in which I spent a year. She lived on the second floor of ...

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4 Things

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pp. 85-96

Mimi, a woman in her late seventies, is sitting on a white plastic chair outside her house, in the shade of an overgrown vine. This spot of shade outside Mimi’s house is just off the main expanse of my local square in the center of the old village, Piazza à O,1 a convenient place for the elderly and not so elderly women of the neighborhood to sit and chat of an afternoon—comfortably within eyesight and ...

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5 People

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pp. 97-117

In 1991, the highest French legal authority, the conseil constitutionnel, ruled that the expression “the Corsican people” was contrary to the French Constitution. This decision was a response to a drafted bill which, in its first article, referred to “the living historical and cultural community which constitutes the Corsican people, a component of the French people” (quoted in Hossay 2004, p. 420). The ...

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6 Languages

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pp. 119-144

Crucetta primary school, on a Wednesday morning. Pascal is standing in front of a class of eight- to ten-year-old pupils whose ears are still ringing. Over the grumbles and protests, he reminds them playfully that that is what they get for not being quiet when he asked them politely, and he puts his feared referee’s whistle back down on the desk. Tucking his glasses onto his forehead, he announces that it is time for the ...

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7 Knowing

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pp. 145-161

This story starts with a crash. On a rainy Thursday morning in February 2003, as I was heading toward the regional archives in Bastia, I lost control of the car in a particularly treacherous bend and collided rather spectacularly with an oncoming van. Luckily and rather incomprehensibly, no one was hurt, although the small bottle-green Peugeot which I had bought soon after arriving in Crucetta was ...

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8 Anonymous Introduction

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pp. 163-178

Anthropologists working in Corsica have often remarked that personal introductions on the island put a strong and fairly formalized emphasis on the evocation of people and places which the interlocutors “have in common” (Ravis-Giordani 1983; Jaffe 1999, p. 58). When the two people meeting are Corsican, this tends to include questions about their villages of origin, leading, if the villages are known ...


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pp. 179-183


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pp. 185-196


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pp. 197-202

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004536
E-ISBN-10: 0253004535
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253354747

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 5 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: New Anthropologies of Europe