Public Uses of Human Remains and Relics in History  book cover
1st Edition

Public Uses of Human Remains and Relics in History

ISBN 9781032086156
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
292 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The principal theme of this volume is the importance of the public use of human remains in a historical perspective. The book presents a series of case studies aimed at offering historiographical and methodological reflections and providing interpretative approaches highlighting how, through the ages and with a succession of complex practices and uses, human remains have been imbued with a plurality of meanings. Covering a period running from late antiquity to the present day, the contributions are the combined results of multidisciplinary research pertaining to the realities of the Italian peninsula, hitherto not investigated with a long-term and multidisciplinary historical perspective.

From the relics of great men to the remains of patriots, and from anatomical specimens to the skeletons of the saints: through these case studies the scholars involved have investigated a wide range of human remains (real or reputed) and of meanings attributed to them, in order to decipher their function over the centuries. In doing so, they have traversed the interpretative boundaries of political history, religious history and the history of science, as required by questions aimed at integrating the anthropological, social and cultural aspects of a complex subject.

Table of Contents


Silvia Cavicchioli and Luigi Provero

Part I: Norm and Praxis in Late Antiquity

1. An Ignominious Burial: The Treatment of the Body of Jesus of Nazareth

Andrea Nicolotti

2. The Cult of Relics in the Late Roman Empire: Legal Aspects

Maria G. Castello

Part II: Cults, Circulations and Battles for Relics

3. A Liquid Miracle: The Origins of the Liquefaction Ritual of the Blood of Saint Januarius

Francesco Paolo de Ceglia

4. The Circulation of Roman Relics in the Savoy States: Dynamics of Devotion and Political Uses in the Modern and Contemporary Ages

Paolo Cozzo

5. Jewish Intellectuals and the "Martyrdom" of Simon of Trent in Habsburg Restoration Italy: Anti-Semitism, Relics and Historical Criticism

Emanuele D’Antonio

6. Some Observations on the Itinerary of Don Bosco’s Relics

Mauro Forno

Part III: Collective Spaces of Death

7. Cemeteries and Villages in the Thirteenth-Century Countryside

Luigi Provero

8. Within, Beneath and Outside the City: The Space of the Dead in Early Modern Naples (Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries)

Diego Carnevale

9. Bodies "as Objects Preserved in Museums": The Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo

Natale Spineto

Part IV: Public Uses of Human Remains Between Politics, Religion and Science

10. "Roasted and Eaten": The Neapolitan Counter-Revolution of 1799 and the Use of Jacobin Remains

Luca Addante

11. "You Can Tell a Man from His Head": The Study and Preservation of the Skulls of Celebrated Italians in the Nineteenth Century

Simone Baral

12. The Remains of the Vanquished: Bodies and Martyrs of the Roman Republic from the Risorgimento to Fascism

Silvia Cavicchioli

13. The Medicalisation of the Corpse in Liberal Italy: National Legislation and the Case of Turin

Silvano Montaldo

14. Simulacra of Eternal Life: Ostensions, Exhibitions and the Concealment of Human Remains

Maria Teresa Milicia

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Silvia Cavicchioli is Researcher of Contemporary History at the University of Turin.

Luigi Provero is Full Professor of Medieval History at the University of Turin.