Francesco Piraino


During my doctoral research on European Sufism between Milan and Paris, I employed photography as a tool to ease the elaboration of fieldnotes.

The first change in my methodological and epistemological perspective is connected to the research on Mamma Schiavona and the femminielli, within the ANR Cirelanmed project, di cui parlerò in seguito.

Mamma Schiavona is surrounded by many actors, connected by complex and multiple relationships focused on Catholic religion, popular traditions and LGBT issues; this, together, with the aesthetic richness of this religious and popular celebration, led me to reconsider the role of photography. I reflected on its characteristic of being a communication and dissemination tool, appealing to a wider audience to show an unknown and engaging phenomenon. In fact, contrary to the public opinion which often considers LGBT issues and religion as separate and opposed, Mamma Schiavona and the femminielli incorporate all this and more. In the end, photography allowed me to convey the aesthetic dimension of this celebration, infused with colours, music, and contradictions.

The second methodological change is currently ongoing, and deals with the use of photography as an active tool of comprehension and understanding, that is, as an heuristic tool: photography as "hetero-graphy".