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A Baron, Some Guides, and a Few Ephebic Boys: Cultural Intimacy, Sexuality, and Heritage in Sicily

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 86, Number 4, Fall 2013
pp. 1087-1118 | 10.1353/anq.2013.0053



In this article, I will assemble a comparative frame within which to read social practices connected with the construction/production of collective cultural identities in some Sicilian contexts. The case studies I collect refer to different historical periods (some Sicilian guides to 18th and 19th centuries Grand Tour voyagers, a few poor youths interacting with a gay German baron in 19th- and 20th-century Taormina, and two tour “guides” living today in a Sicilian UNESCO World Heritage List site) and have an unequal analytic thickness (ranging from a pre-textual episode in Taormina where a Sicilian male tour guide interacts with two young European female tourists, to a very long ethnographic experience in a southeastern Sicilian town). Crisscrossing these case studies, I would like to achieve two analytical goals. First, I hope to shed light on some distinctive traits of the historical process through which Sicily and Sicilians entered, and accommodated themselves with, a hegemonic “global hierarchy of value.” Secondly, drawing from some recent critical interpretations, I will discuss the analytical relevance of Michael Herzfeld’s notion of “cultural intimacy” to read the historical and social process I describe.

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