Augusto Ferraiuolo

Faculty Profiles

Augusto Ferraiuolo

Visiting Researcher and Lecturer

Office Phone: 617-354-6394

Augusto’s work focuses on ritual and performances in a transnational and diasporic perspective. Under this general frame his research topics are diversified: from vernacular healing to religious festive practices in North America, from Southern Italian folk music and dance to traditional Irish music sessions in New England, Ireland and Italy. A theoretical unity is the dynamic between communality and subjectivity underlying his research’s themes.

His initial fieldwork in Southern Italy was about hegemonic and subaltern relationships as expressed in work songs, folk tales and a peculiar form of oral stories, defined as “uncanny tales.” His work led to various ethnographic reports, such as the books La Storia, la Memoria e i Racconti (1982) and  I racconti meravigliosi (1995).

In his book Pro Exoneratione Sua Propria Coscientia (2000) Dr. Ferraiuolo extended his analysis to the 16th and 17th century witchcraft trials, focusing on the peculiar dialectic between the Holy Inquisition and magic, as expressed by local agents and their denunciations.

For his doctoral thesis he made his fieldwork in the Italian-American neighborhood of Boston’s North End. Through the study of local ethnic borders, identity creation and negotiation he analyzes the transformation of a community seeking to safeguard its increasingly valuable, and increasingly elusive, scarce resource of ethnic identity. The results of his research are expressed in the book Religious Festive Practices in Boston’s North End: Ephemeral Identities in an Italian American Community, (2009).

Following this path, he is working on another ethnic community. The aim of comparing the Italian Protestant settlement of Valdese (NC) and the Italian Catholic neighborhood of Boston’s North End is to analyze how religion relates to social construction of Italian migrant identity.

Meanwhile he is writing about traditional Irish music sessions, as performance of a strategic community, designated by a complex dynamics where music, gossip, chat, slang, a peculiar use of proxemics and kinestetics, and power relationships are displayed.

He is a recorded musician of Southern Italian folk music. In 2010 he founded in Italy Ár Meitheal, a world fusion music band bringing all together traditional Irish, jazz and other ethnic music. This is an example ( from their last CD, Riverrun.