Ceci, “The Vatican and Mussolini’s Italy”

In October, Brill Publishers will release The Vatican and Mussolini’s Italy by Lucia Ceci (University of Rome). The publisher’s description follows:The Vatican and Mussolini's Italy

Lucia Ceci reconstructs the relationship between the Catholic Church and Fascism. New sources from the Vatican Archives throw fresh light on individual aspects of this complex relationship: the accession of Mussolini to power, the war in Ethiopia, the racial laws, the comparison between Pius XI and Pius XII. This book offers a comprehensive reconstruction of this encounter, explaining the criteria that led Catholics to support a dictatorial, warmongering and racist regime. In contrast to the traditional periodization, the history begins with the childhood of Mussolini in the final years of the nineteenth century, and ends with the sudden collapse of his puppet regime, in 1945. This means to some extent placing in a different light the exceptional nature of the ventennio. The Italian original L’interesse superiore, Il Vaticano e l’Italia di Mussolini has won the “Friuli Storia” Prize for Studies of Contemporary History.

Butticci, “African Pentecostals in Catholic Europe”

In April, the Harvard University Press will release “African Pentecostals in Catholic Europe: The Politics of Presence in the Twenty-First Century,” by Annalisa Butticci (Harvard Divinity School and Utrecht University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Over the past thirty years, Italy—the historic home of Catholicism—has become a significant destination for migrants from Nigeria and Ghana. Along with suitcases and dreams of a brighter future, these Africans bring 9780674737099-lgtheir own form of Christianity, Pentecostalism, shaped by their various cultures and religious worlds. At the heart of Annalisa Butticci’s beautifully sculpted ethnography of African Pentecostalism in Italy is a paradox. Pentecostalism, traditionally one of the most Protestant of Christian faiths, is driven by the same concern as Catholicism: real presence.

In Italy, Pentecostals face harsh anti-immigrant sentiment and limited access to economic and social resources. At times, they find safe spaces to worship in Catholic churches, where a fascinating encounter unfolds that is equal parts conflict and communion. When Pentecostals watch Catholics engage with sacramental objects—relics, statues, works of art—they recognize the signs of what they consider the idolatrous religions of their ancestors. Catholics, in turn, view Pentecostal practices as a mix of African religions and Christian traditions. Yet despite their apparently irreconcilable differences and conflicts, they both share a deeply sensuous and material way to make the divine visible and tangible. In this sense, Pentecostalism appears much closer to Catholicism than to mainstream Protestantism.

African Pentecostals in Catholic Europe offers an intimate glimpse at what happens when the world’s two fastest growing Christian faiths come into contact, share worship space, and use analogous sacramental objects and images. And it explains how their seemingly antithetical practices and beliefs undergird a profound commonality.

Ozzano & Giorgi, “European Culture Wars and the Italian Case”

In September, Routledge released “European Culture Wars and the Italian Case: Which side are you on?” by Luca Ozzano (University of Turin) and Alberta Giorgi (University of Coimbra).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book aims to understand the European political debate about contentious issues, framed in terms of religious values by religious 9781138840324and/or secular actors in 21st century. It specifically focuses on the Italian case, which, due to its peculiar history and contemporary political landscape, is a paradigmatic case for the study of the relationships between religion and politics.

In recent years, a number of controversies related to religious issues have characterised the European public debate at both the EU and the national level. The ‘affaire du foulard’ in France, the referendum on abortion in Portugal, the recognition of same-sex marriages in many Western European States, the debate over bioethics and the regulation of euthanasia are only a few examples of contentious issues involving religion. This book aims to shed light on the interrelation between these different debates, as well as their broader meaning, through the analysis of the paradigmatic case of Italy. Italy summarizes and sometimes exasperates wider European trends, both because of the peculiar role traditionally played by the Vatican in Italian politics and for the rise, since the 1990s, of new political entrepreneurs eager to exploit ethical and civilizational issues.

This work will be of great interest to scholars and students of a number of fields within the disciplines of political science, sociology and law, and will be useful for courses on religion and politics, political parties, social movements and civil society.

Pin, “The Legal Treatment of Muslim Minorities in Italy: Islam and the Neutral State”

In January, Ashgate will release “The Legal Treatment of Muslim Minorities in Italy: Islam and the Neutral State” by Andrea Pin (University of Padua). The publisher’s description follows:

Islam is a growing presence practically everywhere in Europe. In Italy,Unknown
however, Islam has met a unique model of state neutrality, religious freedom and church and state collaboration. This book gives a detailed description of the legal treatment of Muslims in Italy, contrasting it with other European states and jurisprudence, and with wider global tendencies that characterize the treatment of Islam. Through focusing on a series of case studies, the author argues that the relationship between church and state in Italy, and more broadly in Europe, should be reconsidered both to secure religious freedom and general welfare.

Working on the concepts of religious freedom, state neutrality, and relationship between church and state, Andrea Pin develops a theoretical framework that combines the state level with the supranational level in the form of the European Convention of Human Rights, which ultimately shapes a unitary but flexible understanding of pluralism. This approach should better accommodate not just Muslims’ needs, but religious needs in general in Italy and elsewhere.

Scheid, “The Gods, the State, and the Individual”

In November, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “The Gods, the State, and the Individual: Reflections on Civic Religion in Rome,” by John Scheid (Collège de France).  The publisher’s description follows:

Roman religion has long presented a number of challenges to historians approaching the subject from a perspective framed by the three Abrahamic religions. The Romans had no sacred text that espoused its creed or offered a portrait of its foundational myth. They described relations with the divine using technical terms widely employed to describe relations with other humans. Indeed, there was not even a word in classical Latin that corresponds to the English word religion.

In The Gods, the State, and the Individual, John Scheid confronts these and other challenges directly. If Roman religious practice has long been dismissed as a cynical or naïve system of borrowed structures unmarked by any true piety, Scheid contends that this is the result of a misplaced expectation that the basis of religion lies in an individual’s personal and revelatory relationship with his or her god. He argues that when viewed in the light of secular history as opposed to Christian theology, Roman religion emerges as a legitimate phenomenon in which rituals, both public and private, enforced a sense of communal, civic, and state identity.

Since the 1970s, Scheid has been one of the most influential figures reshaping scholarly understanding of ancient Roman religion. The Gods, the State, and the Individual presents a translation of Scheid’s work that chronicles the development of his field-changing scholarship.

“The Jesuit Suppression in Global Context” (eds. Burson and Wright)

In November, the Cambridge University Press will release “The Jesuit Suppression in Global Context: Causes, Events, and Consequences,” edited by Jeffrey D. Burson (Georgia Southern University) and Jonathan Wright (University of Oxford). The publisher’s description follows:

In 1773, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus, a dramatic, puzzling act that had a profound impact. This volume traces the causes of the attack on the Jesuits, the national expulsions that preceded universal suppression, and the consequences of these extraordinary developments. The Suppression occurred at a unique historical juncture, at the high-water mark of the Enlightenment and on the cusp of global imperial crises and the Age of Revolution. After more than two centuries, answers to how and why it took place remain unclear. A diverse selection of essays – covering France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, China, Eastern Europe, and the Americas – reflects the complex international elements of the Jesuit Suppression. The contributors shed new light on its significance by drawing on the latest research. Essential reading on a crucial yet previously neglected topic, this collection will interest scholars of eighteenth-century religious, intellectual, cultural, and political history.

Romano, “Markets and Marketplaces in Medieval Italy, c. 1100 to c. 1440”

Apropos of recent posts by Mark and our guest, Professor Nathan Oman, here isRomano an interesting book by Professor Dennis Romano (Syracuse) on the cultural and moral importance of the market and the marketplace in the high medieval and early renaissance period, Markets and Marketplaces in Medieval Italy, c. 1100 to c. 1440, published by Yale University Press last month. The publisher’s description follows.

Cathedrals and civic palaces stand to this day as symbols of the dynamism and creativity of the city-states that flourished in Italy during the Middle Ages. Markets and Marketplaces in Medieval Italy argues that the bustling yet impermanent sites of markets played an equally significant role, not only in the economic life of the Italian communes, but in their political, social, and cultural life as well. Drawing on a range of evidence from cities and towns across northern and central Italy, Dennis Romano explores the significance of the marketplace as the symbolic embodiment of the common good; its regulation and organization; the ethics of economic exchange; and how governments and guilds sought to promote market values. With a special focus on the spatial, architectural, and artistic elements of the marketplace, Romano adds new dimensions to our understanding of the evolution of the market economy and the origins of commercial capitalism and Renaissance individualism.

Raponi, “Religion and Politics in the Risorgimento”

I’m a bit late in noting this book, but the subject is so interesting that an Raponiexception was needed. Danilo Raponi’s (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main) still new Religion and Politics in the Risorgimento: Britain and the New Italy, 1861-1875, was published by Palgrave Mamillan last fall and looks to be a wonderful resource on an insufficiently studied topic. The publisher’s description follows.

This book examines Anglo-Italian political and cultural relations in the years of the ‘Roman Question’, and it analyses the impact and importance of religion in the construction of a British ‘Orientalist’ perception of Italy. It focuses on the British and Foreign Bible Society’s attempts to turn Italy into a Protestant nation, showing how perceived shortcomings in the national character of the Italians convinced the British that such ‘Protestantisation’ was necessary if Italy was ever to achieve nationhood. Their efforts encountered, however, strong popular and intellectual resistance from both the Italian people and the Catholic clergy, who called on Catholic Ireland to intervene in their defence. By looking at the interplay between religion and foreign policy, this book breaks through the boundaries between high politics and culture in a way that has not been attempted so far in the study of modern Italy, and puts religion at the centre of a harsh political and cultural war, one that was fought primarily on a transnational level.

Faith or Tradition? A Bolognese Easter Controversy

Here’s an interesting story about an Italian controversy concerning the giving ofGIOSUE-CARDUCCI a blessing at the public Giosuè Carducci Elementary School in Bologna in advance of Easter. Apparently there is an objection by a parent to the blessing that has generated a law suit against the school. In a lovely exemplar of the privatization of religion, the objecting parent opined, “Everything has a place, and the school is not the place for these blessings.” One wonders whether the public square is the place for San Petronio. And in a clear echo of the “endorsement test’s” concern for offended feelings and excluded sensibilities, there is this: “‘Is it fair that everyone has to see this, even if some students are Muslims, Buddhist or atheists?’ asked Adele Orioli, legal adviser to Italy’s Union of Atheists and Rationalistic Agnostics.” There is also some dispute among the school board members about where the blessing should be given, whether in a central garden location or instead in a less central (and probably danker and less sweet smelling) gymnasium. Finally, there is this from the Reverend Raffaele Buono, who oversees religious education in Bologna’s schools:  “It is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of belonging to a tradition.” Must it really be either/or, Reverend Buono?

Welcome, Italy, to issues that have plagued the United States for the last quarter century! You had your first taste with Lautsi, but believe me when I tell you that these will be sources of limitless acrimony and contention for you. We over here are waiting with bated breath to see whether Bologna will be compelled to rip down its statues of San Petronio and house them in privately owned palestre. (parenthetically, Carducci himself (pictured), a late Risorgimento nationalist writer whose poetry I have generally found to be abominably pompous, would almost certainly have held the Christian blessing in the greatest contempt).

Oldfield, “Sanctity and Pilgrimage in Medieval Southern Italy, 1000–1200”

Next month, Cambridge will publish Sanctity and Pilgrimage in Medieval9781107000285 Southern Italy, 1000–1200, by Paul Oldfield (University of Manchester). The publisher’s description follows.

Southern Italy’s strategic location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean gave it a unique position as a frontier for the major religious faiths of the medieval world, where Latin Christian, Greek Christian and Muslim communities coexisted. In this study, the first to offer a comprehensive analysis of sanctity and pilgrimage in Southern Italy between 1000 and 1200, Paul Oldfield presents a fascinating picture of a politically and culturally fragmented land which, as well as hosting its own important relics as important pilgrimage centres, was a transit point for pilgrims and commercial traffic.

Drawing on a diverse range of sources from hagiographical material to calendars, martyrologies, charters and pilgrim travel guides, the book examines how sanctity functioned at this key cultural crossroads and, by integrating the analysis of sanctity with that of pilgrimage, offers important new insights into society, cross-cultural interaction and faith in the region and across the medieval world.

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