2017-18: Linguistic Fieldwork and Collective Memory

Linguistic fieldwork and collective memory

'Linguistic Fieldwork and Collective Memory'


Knowledge Exchange Fellow:
Dr Chiara Cappellaro  |   Faculty of Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics   |   University of Oxford

Partner Organisation:
Comune di Bocchigliero, Italy


This project regards my linguistic fieldwork practice and its potential benefits to the people whose words and utterances form the very empirical basis for my research. It's aim was to develope a collaboration with the Town Council of Bocchigliero (a small town in the mountainous Sila Plateau of Calabria) and to create a permanent museum exhibition and sociolinguistic archive devoted to the language and culture of this remote area of Southern Italy. The museum is called 'Mnemoteca' Silana ('Records of Memory' from Sila), and follows the successful format of Mnemoteche realised in the Campania region between 2007 and 2013 with the support of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Bocchigliero Town Council is also working on a funding application (primarily to the ERDF but also to regional bodies in Italy). It is hosted in the beautiful Palazzo Tucci in the historical town centre and comprises, alongside wall panels with a description of the distinctive linguistic characteristics of the Bocchiglierese dialect and its historical development from Latin, a growing body of material about the local culture, in the local dialect (e.g., letters by immigrants, spoken narrations, documentary video-material). This material forms a sociolinguistic archive that is conceived not as a fixed collection of memories of the past but as an ever-growing space open to new records generated by the local community and ultimately for the benefit of the whole Bocchiglierese community (in Italy and abroad). This project has significant benefits both for the community and administration of Bocchigliero (from more abstract ones like an increased self-pride in their language and culture to more concrete ones like potential economic advantanges) and for my career profile as a linguist truly committed to 'impact' (in the sense of 'effects on, change or benefit to economy, society, culture (...) or quality of life beyond academia' (HEFCE 2010).

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