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During this phase of history what begins McAllen to take hold is an idea of travelling that intersects with the idea of the stationary, with the kind of movement that requires little effort and unfolds in a small space. To repeat, it’s an idea that, although often underestimated, has proven to be crucial for McAllen the history of anthropology and ethnography. Scholars who study local traditions, collect oral texts and record local customs, folklorists and ethnologists are now able McAllen to uncover an elsewhere in the locale they have been inhabiting. The native village becomes the field in which to conduct research, and the “others” are individuals McAllen with whom one is in everyday contact.

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The result has been a blossoming of studies, of explorations and documentations, the discovery of the diversity and alterity of the native and the familiar that was to reveal itself crucial for the perception of the self and the other in the history of anthropological thought. Ernesto De Martino’s revisitation of the urgings by the Italian Jesuits of the second half of the 16th century, to pay more attention to the “Indies in our backyard,” marked the beginning of the anthropologists’ “return home.”

The criticism levelled at traditions that have been too local-oriented are well known, but there exists a substantial amount of research in folklore and ethnology, in Italy and Europe, without which the history of anthropology would appear to be written in a very biased, one-sided manner. Sir James Frazer, the prototype of the “armchair” anthropologist, was able to construct his impressive narrative thanks to data and documents coming to him not only from the world of “savage,” “primitive” peoples but also from European antiquity and the European lower classes.

When all is said and done, folklorists, in their most refined versions, prefigure the kind of flâneur who strives to reinterpret the local context in a more refined manner. Giampaolo Nuvolati has noted that “the domestic, native flâneur re-envisages the locales of his everyday meanderings but filters that reality by way of a number of instruments, both descriptive and narrative, that allow him to grasp the most recondite meanings.” The 19th-century flâneur who visits burgs and their surrounding countryside with an attitude that is often antimodern and nostalgic is followed by the better-known flâneur who visits the city in which he lives and discovers it, interrogates it or narrates it. From Charles Baudelaire to Maxime Du Camp, from Walter Benjamin to Marc Augé, the eye has lingered on the city, viewed now as labyrinth, as a place where some loss can’t be avoided, now as a living body, now as a field of study, an area wherein to observe transformations or continuities.

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