English Notes

by Paolo Nardini

The Archive of popular traditions of Maremma region

Originally established by the Municipality of Grosseto (Tuscany, Italy) in 1979, since 2016 the Archive of popular traditions is a Cultural Association. It had been created by Roberto Ferretti, and had already carried out field research on popular culture in the provincial territory of Grosseto. It is one of the oldest research organisations in Tuscany. The Archive of popular traditions unofficially came into being with an itinerant exposition set up in the Seventies about the unknown hidden aspects of Maremma. The work of the Archive of popular traditions consists of finding and collecting information and documents on local folklore.

Although Roberto Ferretti, heart and soul of the research centre, died in 1984, the centre has carried on with its programme. The Archive is presently involved in editing field research results, organising symposia and seminars, and setting up expositions on folkloric themes.

The Archive plays an active role in the documentation and analysis of the oral histories collected. The object of the Archive’s research are traditional cultural phenomena such as song, music, popular theatre, traditional forms of human gathering, forms of popular piety, material culture, fairy tales, improvised poetry in Ottava rima, in relation to social structure, production relations, forms of resource exploitation, and social change.

The Archive uses the following methods of ethno-anthropological research: archive enquiry, field research, interviews, and participant observation. In the documentation stage of its research it uses such time-tested techniques as photography, and analogical and digital audio and video recording.

Profile of directors board

Pietro Clemente is the Scientific Guarantor for the Archive of popular traditions. He is Hemeritus Chair of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Florence. He has taught History of Popular Traditions at the University of Siena and Cultural Anthropology at "La Sapienza" University in Rome. He has carried out research on popular theatre in relation to peasant life in the midst of social change. He is a specialist in Museography and had been president of SIMBDEA, Società Italiana per la Museografia e i Beni Demo-Etno-Antropologici (the Italian association of Museography and folkloric and ethno-anthropological heritage).

Paolo Nardini is actually the president of the Cultural Association. He carried out research on the life of sharecroppers, migration trends, ethnic groups, oral history and improvised poetry. He is interested in ethnographic Museography and in urban social life.

Piergiorgio Zotti had been the coordinator of the research group of the Archive of popular traditions. A former primary school teacher, he carried out research with Roberto Ferretti.

Corrado Barontini is one of the older members of the Archive of popular traditions. He carried out research on popular theatre, traditional music and songs.

Nevia Grazzini carried out research on popular theatre and folklore teaching activities. She also worked with Roberto Ferretti, and is currently a secondary school teacher.

Gabriella Pizzetti has been coordinator of the Archive of popular traditions. She carried out research on popular traditional fables and on life histories.

roberto ferrettiThe Founder

Roberto Ferretti was born in Grosseto in 1948. When he was a young man he developed his passion for painting and studied local history. He became a scholar of folklore, as well as a social and cultural operator. Ferretti was also actively involved in politics; he began to acquire his political experience early on left-wing political youth groups, formed by culturally active intellectuals. He sympathised with the rebels, the marginalised, and the lower classes.

His friendships with researchers and witnesses of the traditions of the Maremma region, such as Morbello Vergari, Alessandro Giustarini, and Corrado Barontini, were fundamental to his scholarly education.

It was through his meeting with Gastone Venturelli, who in the 1960s was doing research in the province of Lucca, that Ferretti was able to get some of his works published. Furthermore, his collaboration with Pietro Clemente, a cultural anthropologue wich at that time was professor at the University of Siena, opened his mind to the complex and demanding nature of university-level research.

He died in 1984 in a car accident, while returning from a journey of inquiry to Jordan.