Polemò. Il lavoro nei canti popolari del Salento


The essay "Polemó. Work in the folk chants from Salento" examines in depth the theme of work found in traditional songs all over the province of Lecce. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Salento peninsula was geographically in a very peripheral position, with an inadequate network of roads, and a poor and underdeveloped economy. Yet, in spite of the local and cultural limits, this little strip of land – where the linguistic island of Grecía Salentina is located – had developed several possibilities of self-sustenance, giving its inhabitants the chance to make the most of their hidden skills. Through their traditional chants, the people from Salento expressed their passions and moods, linked to their working environment, their unstable life conditions and their everyday life. From audio materials, we can get very useful knowledge that helps us to really understand the working dynamics of the lower class people. For example, all the jobs, which don´t exist anymore, once shaped and diversified society. Some of these jobs, such as carpenters or barbers, were preferred to others, being less hard and unstable. The kids used to leave school very early or they wouldn´t attend school at all, and in this case they were directed to do practical activities. Through these songs we understand that women, usually submissive in our stereotypes, were actually independent in their working and domestic contexts. They played an active role in domestic management and, when the cultivation of tobacco plantation was introduced in Salento, they became part of that working world.

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