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
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
5. Jewish Intellectuals and the "Martyrdom" of Simon of Trent in Habsburg Restoration Italy: Anti-Semitism, Relics and Historical Criticism
6. Some Observations on the Itinerary of Don Bosco’s Relics
Part III: Collective Spaces of Death
7. Cemeteries and Villages in the Thirteenth-Century Countryside
8. Within, Beneath and Outside the City: The Space of the Dead in Early Modern Naples (Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries)
9. Bodies "as Objects Preserved in Museums": The Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo
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
11. "You Can Tell a Man from His Head": The Study and Preservation of the Skulls of Celebrated Italians in the Nineteenth Century
12. The Remains of the Vanquished: Bodies and Martyrs of the Roman Republic from the Risorgimento to Fascism
13. The Medicalisation of the Corpse in Liberal Italy: National Legislation and the Case of Turin
14. Simulacra of Eternal Life: Ostensions, Exhibitions and the Concealment of Human Remains
Maria Teresa Milicia
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.