The starting point of this paper is a recent dialogue between Giorgio Baratta and Alberto M. Cirese, concerning Gramscian notion of popular culture. In the 1960s, Cirese used The Prison Notebooks to estabilish a new discipline, called “demologia”, focused on the study of folklore as subaltern culture. Reading Gramsci, Cirese stressed the cultural as well as political autonomy of anti-hegemonic spaces, opposing the tradition of so-called “democratic centralism”. This interpretation was fully successful in legitimating and susteining the academic status of anthropolgy in Italian academy. But in the long term, isolating “subaltern” from “hegemonic” cultures, demologists were not allowed to understand the new forms of cultural circulation in mass societies.
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