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Childbirth and Childbearing among the Friulian Peasantry

Free guided tour on Saturday May 21, 2016 at the Museo Etnografico del Friuli

During the course of this fascinating tour, visitors will be introduced to two important figures whose accounts bear witness to the customs and medical practices related to childbearing in the rural communities of Friuli.

The first is Valentino Ostermann, the unforgettable Friulian ethnographer whose monograph La vita in Friuli (Life in Friuli) recounted and helped perpetuate the memory of traditional childbearing beliefs and customs. The second is Luigi Alpago Novello, a medical practitioner working in the Treviso countryside, who in 1885 complained before the Società di Scienze Mediche di Treviso,  (Treviso Medical Science Society) of all the difficulties he, a man of science, encountered  when trying to intervene in the childbearing practices of local communities, where age-old customs still held sway and entire villages would huddle around mothers-to-be, drastically reducing the space for mainstream medicine to play its role. 

It is through the words of these two figures, in all respects very different men yet united by their extraordinary powers of observation and a particularly keen interest in marginal societies, that the visitor will explore the complex  interplay of superstitions, customs and traditional remedies and medical practices with regards to pregnancy and  childbirth and consequently the perpetual dialectic that exists between folk medicine and mainstream medicine, between the ancestral bonds of peasant solidarity and  suspicion of scientific orthodoxy. 

Chiara Carbon, who will be conducting the tour, will guide visitors through several rooms of the museum as they explore one of the most meaningful moments in a woman's life, a moment charged with conflicting emotions. 

The visit will take place at the Museo Etnografico del Friuli in Palazzo Giacomelli on Saturday, May 21 at 16.00 pm and will be free of charge.
For further information: tel. 0432 271920.