Magic

A Theory from the South

Ernesto de Martino

Magic

Ernesto de Martino

Distributed for HAU

Translated by Dorothy Louise Zinn
160 pages | 14 halftones | 6 x 9
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780990505099 Published June 2015

Though his work was little known outside Italian intellectual circles for most of the twentieth century, anthropologist and historian of religions Ernesto de Martino is now recognized as one of the most original thinkers in the field. This book is testament to de Martino’s innovation and engagement with Hegelian historicism and phenomenology—a work of ethnographic theory way ahead of its time.

This new translation of Sud e Magia, his 1959 study of ceremonial magic and witchcraft in southern Italy, shows how De Martino is not interested in the question of whether magic is rational or irrational but rather in why it came to be perceived as a problem of knowledge in the first place. Setting his exploration within his wider, pathbreaking theorization of ritual, as well as in the context of his politically sensitive analysis of the global south’s historical encounters with Western science, he presents the development of magic and ritual in Enlightenment Naples as a paradigmatic example of the complex dynamics between dominant and subaltern cultures. Far ahead of its time, Magic is still relevant as anthropologists continue to wrestle with modernity’s relationship with magical thinking.


Review Quotes
Choice
“A classic in the field of ethnographic theory and the study of magic’s role within culture. This English translation by Dorothy Louise Zinn now makes it available for a wider audience.”
Times Literary Supplement
“Had an enduring influence on Italian ethnology, and de Martino’s line of argument, unusual in folklore studies, and developed without reference to mainstream anthropology, may still be of some broader interest.”
Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford
“Ernesto de Martino’s study of magic, ritual, lament, possession, the evil eye, fascination, and tarantism in southern Italy draws innovatively from a range of intellectual sources. Although ethnology, philosophy, and psychology, as well as literary theory and sources, make for an original and engaging framework, de Martino’s work is little known outside his native Italy. This is a shame because his thought has much to offer. However, this new translation of his 1959 Sud e magia might be a step towards greater recognition of his work in the Anglophone world.”
 
American Anthropologist
“A thought-provoking work that questions the shifting boundaries between south and north, naïve and learned, magic and religion. Originally published in 1959 in Italian and now available in Dorothy Zinn’s precise translation, the book is part of the trilogy that makes de Martino (1908–1965) a seminal figure at the intersection of folklore, ethnology, and the historical and philosophical study of religion.”
 
Entangled Religions
"This translation is an important contribution to increasing the international visibility of this prominent historian of religions and ethnologist, whose work had been mainly restricted to the Italian language. The translation allows the English-speaking scholarly world to become acquainted with a classic relatively unknown outside of Italy until now."
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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