Di Bella, “Glossolalia and Possession among Pentecostal groups of the Mezzogiorno”

Di Bella, Maria Pia “Glossolalia and Possession among Pentecostal groups of the Mezzogiorno” (translated by Olga Koepping) in Elizabeth Koepping (ed.), World Christianity, London, Routledge (Critical concepts in Religious Studies), 2011, vol. 2, pp. 307-320.

Excerpt: “This study of the emergence of the new doctrine within a rural environment started at Accadia in Apulia, a centre for Oneness Pentecostalism, and later extended to other villages where this doctrine developed . . . Moreover, a comparison has been drawn with certain Trinitarian Pentecostal groups in the neighbouring Apulian towns of Anzano and Monteleone. The introduction of Pentecostalism and its development in a rural environment clearly followed the same pattern in these different locations. Three distinct phases could be discovered in the process, each marked by resistance to rural local values . . . “

Di Bella, “Essai sur les supplices. L’Êtat de victime”

Di Bella, Maria (2011) Essai sur les supplices. L’Êtat de victime. Paris:Hermann 

Publisher’s Description: C’est à partir des années 1990 que Maria Pia Di Bella commence à s’intéresser à une manifestation de dévotion populaire : le « culte des âmes des corps décollés », sujet susceptible, selon elle, de livrer quelques clefs sur la Sicile. Pour comprendre les raisons de cette ferveur vis-à-vis des corps des condamnés à mort ensevelis dans un cimetière proche de l’église de la «Madonna del Fiume» à Palerme, elle s’est attachée à l’étude de la compagnie du Santissimo Crocifisso (1541-1820), dite des Bianchi, qui, les trois jours précédant leur exécution, se chargeait de préparer les condamnés à une mort chrétienne. Pendant cette période liminale les Bianchi instruisaient les prisonniers de façon à ce que, le jour de leur exécution, ils rappellent aux yeux du public le Christ, les martyrs ou bien les saints.
À travers cette inversion de coupable à victime, Maria Pia Di Bella a pu expliquer comment, pendant ces trois jours, se produisait le phénomène de superposition des figures. Peu à peu, ce phénomène, ainsi que l’extension de la figure de la « victime », sont devenus les points focaux de sa recherche et lui ont permis de distinguer l’opposition – dès le XVIIIe siècle – entre les attitudes religieuses catholiques et protestantes dans le maniement respectif de ces figures. Forte de cette recherche historique, Maria Pia Di Bella a, par la suite, entrepris une enquête comparative aux États-Unis. Dans ce volume, elle montre à quel point ces études historiques et anthropologiques peuvent contribuer à la compréhension de l’évolution de la notion de victime en Occident.

Translation: In the 1990s, Maria Pia Di Bella began to investigate an expression of popular devotion known as “the cult of the souls of the decapitated,” a subject she believes can yield a number of important insights about Sicily. Seeking to understand the reasons for this fervent interest in the bodies of prisoners condemned to death and buried in a cemetery close to the church of the “Madonna del Fiume” in Palermo, she has made a close study of the Company of the Santissimo Crocifisso (1541-1820), known as the “Bianchi,” whose members, for the three days preceding the execution of the prisoners, assumed the task of preparing them to die in a Christian manner. During this liminal period, the Bianchi instructed the condemned how to comport themselves in such a way that their appearance on the day of execution would cause the public to recall the martyrs, saints, and even Christ.

By analyzing this process, in which the guilty are transformed into victims, Di Bella was able to explain how the superposition of these figures took place. Over the years, this phenomenon, along with the steady broadening of the category of the “victim,” have become the focal points of her research and have enabled her to bring to light the opposition – originating in the 18th century – between the attitudes of Catholics and Protestants in the treatment of these figures. Based on this research, Di Bella subsequently undertook a comparative study of the topic in the United States, and in this book she shows the substantial contribution that such historical and anthropological research can make toward our understanding of the evolution of the notion of the victim in Western society.