Collecting Neapolitans: e Representation of Street Life in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples
Recent literature on the construction of the image of the south in Italy has shown the complexity and strength of stereotypes that persist even today in political debates in Italy. The north-south divide – whether between northern and southern Europe or between northern and southern Italy – is essential to this construction by which Naples and Neapolitans are ‘orientalized’, ‘othered’ or ‘exoticized’. One might argue that more than enough has been written on the history of the stereotypes of the south and the southern Italian (most recently, John Dickie’s Darkest Italy and Nelson Moe’s e View om Vesuvius), and that the subject has been exhausted.1 However, the passivity of the Neapolitan subjects in these accounts remains striking. The collecting of representations of Neapolitan people and their lives and activities formed the core of this process of stereotyping the southerner as indolent, superstitious, rebellious and carefree. From the writings of Benedetto Croce onwards, a great deal has been written about the early history of the creation of these stereotypes.2 By contrast with this traditional prospective, I propose to map the process by which Neapolitans
themselves helped to create and later consume these representations, that is, the process by which the stereotype of the Neapolitan became part of popular culture and identity in the city in the late eighteenth century.