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Maurizio Gnerre (Italy)

 

Maurizio Gnerre[i] is an anthropological linguist who works within a similar ethno-anthropological perspective to Jack Goody, but with a primarily linguistic, rather than anthropological focus. He teaches ethnolinguistics at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the University of Naples in Italy, while most of his ethnolinguistic research has been carried out in Southern and Central America, since his main interest is in Amerindian languages. Several of his publications in ethnolinguistics have appeared in the United States, Brazil and Italy, and he has also published in Spanish: Linguagem, Escrita e Poder [Language, Writing and Power] (1985). He spends considerable periods of time each year visiting Indian tribal societies in Peru and Brazil to expand his studies of linguistic change and development in everyday contexts.

 

In his contribution, The Semiotics Of Ephemeral Graphisms In Two South-American Indigenous Societies, Maurizio sketches out a number of interesting reflections on ephemeral forms of writing carried out on the human body in ritual settings among the Huni Kuin tribe, whose tribal area spans the border zone between Peru and Brazil, and who are often known to each other as ‘the true people’. One of his most interesting claims he makes on the basis of his research is that the human body was, and in many cases still is, the primary locus from, and on which, ephemeral and semantically meaningful forms of graphical semiosis emerged. He goes on to qualify this assertion based on a proposed opposition between two experiential categories of ephemerality and lastingness. This seems useful, in that it such categories ought to be readily applicable to a wide range of communicational systems end practices, ranging from the various kinds of body (and sand) painting practices with which Maurizio illustrates his analysis, to practices in more contemporary settings related to the use of cosmetics, piercing, scarring, certain types of mass-media texts, publicity and electoral posters, web sites, hyperlinks between sites, electronic mailing lists, and more dynamic forms of writing such as conversations in Internet chat-rooms and MUD/MOO communities.

 

 



[i] The Institute for Oriental Studies website at the University of Naples is at: http://www.iuo.it/ . Maurizio Gnerre may be contacted by e-mail at: <mgnerre@iuo.it>

 


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