Subverting or essentialising gender? Performing childbirth in the figliata of the femminielli
Keywords:femminielli, performativity, Judith Butler, maternity, Curzio Malaparte's La Pelle
After introducing the singular figure of the femminielloand presenting it as a performative identity, bearing in mind Butler’s theory of performance, I will focus on the rite of figliata,through which the femminielloperforms the bearing of a child, i.e. the natural act par excellence; in order to explore this performance, I will take into account Curzio Malaparte’s literary description of the figliatain La Pelle(1949). I will then retrace the supposed anthropological-religious origins of the femminielliin order to try to throw light on the roots, motives and implications underlying the performative ritual under study. This, along with a set of statements taken from interviews with a number of femminielli, will enable me to conclude my consideration of femminielli,viewing them as performative identities who on the one hand perform and subvert gender and at the same time perform and essentialise it.
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