The first time I really had to deal with huge contradictions was some years ago, when I decided the topic of my master’s thesis in archaeology. Eventually, I chose to analyze the impact of Greek colonization on the indigenous communities of Eastern Sicily and the relations between Greeks and Siculi during the VIII and VII centuries BC in the colonies of Naxos, Lentini and Syracuse.1 It was an opportunity to reflect on an encounter/clash provoked by cultural and ethnic differences, a chance to reflect on the Sicily of the past and the Sicily of today. Sicily, as well as Italy, is a place full of contradictions, opposites, some so common that we may not notice them, but other so significant that we have to know how to manage them.
|Italy – Broken – Chris Barbalis|
In more or less six months, I read and studied many dissimilar theories, different perspectives, which I would never have thought so numerous and linked to each other. First, I understood that the method used for the archaeological identification of past cultures had led some British and American archaeologists to place the theme of identity at the center of their studies. One of the most prominent ones even declared that “archaeology is fundamentally a discipline concerned with identity.”2 I wondered how it was possible that most of the Italian archaeologists have long refused to deal with this topic and consider it strictly connected to historical studies. I soon realized that this issue often provoked not just debates, but real confrontations within academic environments.
|Taormina, Italy – Stairs to Taormina – Luca N|
Some Italian university teachers and researchers believe that archeologists must do without the concept of identità as tool for analyzing phenomena or behavior because they cannot have direct access to the ideas and perceptions of ancient peoples. While for other disciplines the data are analyzed within their context, forcing archaeologists to recreate that context through the same objects, and it is inevitable that modern debates can influence our ideas about ancient polarization in social identity. The question is: “when can such presumed groups of people legitimately be assumed to have considered themselves to be distinct from other contemporary social groups of human beings?”3
|Cagliari, Italy – Direct – Nicola Fioravanti|
For the first time in my life I realized that ancient polarization based on identity (us vs. them) is still alive in universities and colleges, altered by distance and time, discussed in new language, in Italy, in Europe and all over the world. This polarization influences our thoughts and our feelings about modern immigration and the ability to imagine a multicultural future based on societies in which equal respect for the various cultures is a habit, and policies promote the preservation of cultural diversity. For this reason, I chose to include the theme of identity in my research. Identity, a source of clashes or a resource to understand the past better, is the right way to cognize us, a key to understanding the present era.
|Naviglio, Italy – Up against the wall – Chris Barbalis|
A large number of indigenous sites dating back to the Iron Age characterized Eastern Sicily, the land of some of the oldest Greek colonization with poleis like Syracuse and Naxos. Different cultures, different languages, different ways of thinking were found in the same territory. In each context, I analyzed convergences and divergences between literary sources and material evidence to test the existence of hostility between the Indigenous and the Hellenic component in the new settlements. According to the Greek literary tradition, Greek colonization involved the use of force against the people already settled, but the material data often do not confirm violent and traumatic events.
|Cefalú, Taormina, Italy – In the cove – Ruth Troughton|
The clashes between Greeks and Persians in the V century BC strongly influenced the historians who, more or less unconsciously, have often projected such negative experiences into the colonial past. I realized that just as the future is influenced by the past so even past thoughts and stories about people living two or three centuries ago had been altered by today’s polarization in social identity (us vs. them).
|Rome, Italy – Consulting – Cristina Gottardi|
The model of coexistence between Greeks and Siculi was too simplistic too. A theory that highlights the interactive process leading to the change of both the indigenous and colonial culture may be the best way to explicate the perception that they had of themselves – a world where various identities were influenced by each other, where everything was ruptured, but also meeting. The initial relationships with the Siculi did not have to result in immediate conflict, and a model based on integrated economics may have frequently led to historical situations in which the maintenance of differences was considered the most useful choice to make.
|Naples, Italy – Illusion – Bertrand Gabioud|
The colonial experience acted as a catalyst, especially for the perception that the Greeks in the new settlements had of themselves. In fact, they were experimenting with the reproduction of existing models in the motherland, retained partially thanks to relations with their original homeland, which undoubtedly were changed and adapted because of the interaction with the indigenous populations. It’s the same phenomenon that characterizes the thousands of immigrants and refugees arriving in Sicily, in Italy, not to found new cities, as Greeks did in the past, but to escape from wars and have new opportunities to live; the result is the same extraordinary network between different cultural backgrounds and new ways of living.
At the end of my work I wondered what word I would use the most to define the duality between identities, between cultures. It was “dicotomia”, which derives from the Greek word διχοτομία, the division of an entity into two parts that are mutually exclusive but complementary. Now I am sure we are all made up of separate but closely related parts, in union and not in contrast. I realized that the extremes in past and present life, that can shape our identity, the tools we choose to understand the world, should not be opposed and should not be reconciled, but understood and kept safe, because they are all part of us, they are who we are.
1. D.Cannarella, Greci ed indigeni nella Sicilia Orientale, Master’s Degree Thesis, 2014.
2. A. Gardner, Paradox and Praxis in the Archaeology of Identity, in L. Amundsen-Meyer – N.Engel- S.Pickering , “Identity Crisis: Archaeological Perspectives on Social Identity. Proceedings of the 42nd (2010) Annual Chacmool Archaeology Conference, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta”, Calgary, 2011, pp. 11-26.
3. S. Shennan, Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity, London, 1994.
Snapshot 1: Sulzano, Italy – Walking on water – Chris Barbalis (Unsplash)
Snapshot 2: Italy – Broken – Chris Barbalis (Unsplash)
Snapshot 3: Taormina, Italy – Stairs to Taormina – Luca N (Unsplash)
Snapshot 4: Cagliari, Italy – Direct – Nicola Fioravanti (Unsplash)
Snapshot 5: Naviglio, Italy – Up against the wall – Chris Barbalis (Unsplash)
Snapshot 6: Cefalú, Taormina, Italy – In the cove – Ruth Troughton (Unsplash)
Snapshot 7: Rome, Italy – Consulting – Cristina Gottardi (Unsplash)
Snapshot 8: Naples, Italy – Illusion – Bertrand Gabioud (Unsplash)
Snapshot 9: Padova, Italy – Testing – Matteo Minoglio (Unsplash)
Cinemblem voiceover: Marika C.
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes
Ahmed, Amina. Growing up with Abuse: A Life of Extremes. April 2019.
Alencar, Joana. Lack of Social Trust – Brazil. January 2019.
Awdejuk, Pawel. Pole-arization – Poland. June 2019.
Baccino, Alejandra. Polarization within Ourselves – South America. January 2019.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. What You Sow Does Not Come To Life Unless It Dies. May 2019.
Casas, Marilin Guerrero Casas. Balance – Cuba. May 2019.
Cordido, Veronica. Hanging by Extremes – Venezuela. January 2019.
Escandell, Andrea da Silva. The Illogic of Extremes – Uruguay. May 2019.
Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Extremism Is Now the New Hype? – Spain. February 2019
Israyelyan, Mania. Polarized Within Ourselves – Armenia. June 2019.
Montano, Osvaldo. Progress in the Face of Polarization – Bolivia. February 2019.
Protić, Aleksandar. Linguistic Balkanization as a Means of Polarization – The Balkans. June 2019.
Ranaldo, Mary. Social Polarization. April 2019.
Romano, Mavi. Censorship and Cultural Survival in a World without Gods – Spain. January 2019.
Sariñana, Alejandra Gonzalez. Student Movements – Mexico. March 2019.
Sepi, Andreea. A World of Victims and Perpetrators? – Germany and Romania. February 2019.
Sevunts, Nane. The Era To Close – Armenia. March 2019.
Skobic, Alexandar. The Loss of Identity. April 2019.
Sitorus, Rina. Polarization in Politics: All a Cebong or Kampret – Indonesia. March 2019.
Spirito, Julieta. A Thought about Polarized Insecurity. April 2019.
Valenzuela, Monica. Adults and Children. April 2019.
Vuka. Extreme Immunity to Functional Tax and Judicial System – Serbia. March 2019
Wallis, Toni. Walls and Resettlement – South Africa and Angola. February 2019.
Williams, Jazz Carl. Unfinished Episodes – Spain. May 2019.
CW 26 – Serbia – Jelena Sekulic
CW 27 – Tajikistan – Nigina Kanunova
CW 28 – Portugal – Nuno Rosalino
CW 29 – Uruguay – Lillian Julber
CW 30 – Argentina – Javier Gomez
CW 31 – Turkey – Seyit Ali Dastan
CW 32 – India – Sanjay Ray
CW 33 – Russia – Anastasiya Zakharova
CW 34 – Canada – Maha Husseini
CW 35 – Spain – Virginia Sanmartin Lopez
CW 38 – Turkey – Peren Cakir
CW 37 – Armenia – Hayk Antonyan
CW 38 – Italy – Sara Deiana
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed