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Becoming Neapolitan

, 360 pages

17 halftones, 3 line drawings

December 2010


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Becoming Neapolitan

Citizen Culture in Baroque Naples

Naples in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries managed to maintain a distinct social character while under Spanish rule. John A. Marino's study explores how the population of the city of Naples constructed their identity in the face of Spanish domination.

As Western Europe’s largest city, early modern Naples was a world unto itself. Its politics were decentralized and its neighborhoods diverse. Clergy, nobles, and commoners struggled to assert political and cultural power. Looking at these three groups, Marino unravels their complex interplay to show how such civic rituals as parades and festival days fostered a unified Neapolitan identity through the assimilation of Aragonese customs, Burgundian models, and Spanish governance. He discusses why the relationship between mythical and religious representations in ritual practices allowed Naples's inhabitants to identify themselves as citizens of an illustrious and powerful sovereignty and explains how this semblance of stability and harmony hid the city's political, cultural, and social fissures. In the process, Marino finds that being and becoming Neapolitan meant manipulating the city's rituals until their original content and meaning were lost. The consequent widening of divisions between rich and poor led Naples's vying castes to turn on one another as the Spanish monarchy weakened.

Rich in source material and tightly integrated, this nuanced, synthetic overview of the disciplining of ritual life in early modern Naples digs deep into the construction of Neapolitan identity. Scholars of early modern Italy and of Italian and European history in general will find much to ponder in Marino's keen insights and compelling arguments.

John A. Marino is a professor in the Department of History at the University of California, San Diego. He has written extensively about early modern Italy and is the author of Pastoral Economics in the Kingdom of Naples, also published by Johns Hopkins.

"Marino offers rich insights into how early modern Neapolitans constructed their sense of civic identity... This is the best book to date about the political culture and ritual life of early modern Naples."

"Makes a significant contribution to the growing historiography of Naples and provides a more nuanced understanding of the politics of pageantry in the early modern city."

"Marino's sweeping and detailed descriptions of some of the key events he uses as case studies provide a sense of the ritual city at work."

" Becoming Neapolitan is an innovative and impressive contribution to both the history of Naples as well as to the history of early modern ritual practice broadly conceived."

"The results [of becoming Neapolitan] represent a treasure trove for the historian and Marino has made excellent use of it. Better yet, he has opened up countless areas of investigation for future researchers."

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