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Welte, Sandra (2017): Masked Venice Unveiled. The Venetian Art of Identity Construction. Studien aus dem Münchner Institut für Ethnologie / Working Papers in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 25. München: Institut für Ethnologie, LMU München. [PDF, 297kB]


In Venice, carnival of course meant masks, but masks do not always mean carnival" (2011:49) - Johnson famously stated. In a city suspended between strict rule and libertine pleasure-seeking, economic wealth and vicious decadence, highest artistic expression and vile corruption, the surreal setting of its architectonic uniqueness would give way to a cultural manifestation that should become an imponderable component of everyday life in 'la Serenissima', the most serene of all places in the world. Far from solely constituting a carnevalesque accessory, in Venice, masks represented an essential element of quotidian attire interpreted as a vital feature in order to preserve a degree of anonymity otherwise unthinkable in a place where narrow passageways, open campi and innumerable ponti determine movement, interaction and encounter. Taking these particularities in consideration, the essays aims at providing a deeper insight into the intricate mechanisms of identity construction departing from the unparalleled peculiarities of Venice, while interweaving various approaches to the act of masking and unveiling besides extending the scope of analysis from the individual to the realm of societal structure reversed, thus furthermore furnishing a thorough exegesis of the structural processes at play.

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