University of Gastronomic Sciences Slow Food The research project GRANAI DELLA MEMORIA by Piercarlo Grimaldi and Davide Porporato
Project “Granai della Memoria” The memory that people are writing with every moment of their lives is a World’s intangible heritage that is disappearing. To answer to this anthropological emergency, it has been written the “ Manifesto on the future of knowledge systems” presented at Terra Madre 2010, and it has been launched the research project "Granai della Memoria" [Granaries of Memory] to gather and preserve this precious intangible heritage that previous generations wanted to consign us.
Project “Granai della Memoria” “ To found a library is like to build public granary, accumulating stocks for the winter of the spirit that, I see, is coming against my will. I built many things, and to rebuild means to collaborate with Time, with its aspect of “Past”. It is to understand its spirit, or to modify it, holding it out towards a longer future. It means to discover the secret of the spring under the stones” Marguerite Yourcenar , Memories of Hadrian
Project “Granai della Memoria” “ The hunter-gather comes to know the surface of her land through her moving. The sedentary farmer builds her world in circles around her granary.” Leroi Gourhan André, 1993, Gesture and Speech
Project “Granai della Memoria” “ It is necessary to collect the memories of rural communities before they are lost. Once, there was the oral memory that guaranteed the transmission of this treasure. Today we need authentic granaries to fight such a famine of ideas, to contrast the dominant and massified culture that has silenced the precious knowledge of our fathers. I do not intend to leave this battle to other people. We need to defend the “biodiversity” of cultures, restore the just dignity to indigenous languages and dialects” Carlo Petrini
Project “Granai della Memoria” Starting from the anthropological emergency of collecting the traditional knowledge, practices, and languages of local communities, the project is aimed to preserve and reconstitute collective memories, which are a fundamental basis to interpret present times and plan the future. We are building a “granary”, a multimedia archive of the oral and gestural heritages that are created and transmitted by all the people of Earth.
Project “Granai della Memoria” The main objective of this project is to gather all the information in a digital archive, in order to make them easily accessible by a large public and analyzable for scientific researches. The archive “Granai della Memoria” will return the collected information organizing them per geographical provenience, analytical categories, key words, etc.
Today, it is factually possible to cope with the problem of archiving these data. The most recent multimedia technologies allow us to rethink in a critical and novel way the problems linked with the collection and access to networks of memories.
In the past years, we have already worked and created some digital archive. The areas of research in which we worked were:
Archivio feste popolari del Piemonte (Regione Piemonte) [Archive of Folk Festivals in Piedmont region]
Archivio saperi della luna [Archive of Lunar Lore]
Archivio saperi del cibo (Regione Piemonte) [Archive of food traditions]
Archivio musei etnografici [Archive of ethnographic museums]
Archivio canti Terra Madre [Archive of Terra Madre songs]
Archivio memorie di Piemonte: Resistenza (Regione Piemonte) [ Archive “Memories of Piedmont: Resistence]
Unesco - Paesaggio vitivinicolo (Regione Piemonte) [Unesco Wine Landscape]
Archivio ‘Alla ricerca del grande fiume’ [Archive “finding the great river”]
“ Granai della Memoria” archive has been designed to allows users to add new materials online, via the internet.
The cataloguing of information is based on a “client/server” communication model . It does not require that clients install any particular software on their computers to access to and upload materials to the archive.
All the authorized users can add contents to the archive and upload multimedia resources to the records.
The archive manage the information through a complex body of queries that correlates and classifies all the contents.
The core of Granai is constituted by the videos testifying the world’s memories.
Project “Granai della Memoria”
Project “Granai della Memoria” Memory-Bearers Reference to the Sources Links Name and Surname Birth year Place of Birth Education Profession bibliography sitography filmography Web document photo Text document Audio document Video document Record Number Date Title of the record Archive-channel name Historic period of the memory Nation Region Province City Neighborhood Latitude Longitude Altitude Google map link Wikipedia record for the city Description Categories Tag Date creation document Author Technical characteristics Collocation of the document within the archive
The geographical coordinates (longitude and latitude) of the source of the stored memory must be included to every record. These data are required to identify the territory and link it to other archived memories.
By georeferencing the memories, it will be possible to make Granai della Memoria able to produce a precise and detailed “Atlas of Memory”, a useful tool for further researches.
These information will make possible to create maps on the basis of the anthropological data.
It will be possible to connect these digital maps and the information stored in the archive to other maps, already available online, such as the one of Google Maps, in order to create thematic maps about the geographic distribution of particular anthropological and ethnographic elements.
It will be possible to analyze and manipulate all the maps generated by the Granai della Memoria and its data through GIS software.
As a general rule, any video shoud reconstruct the autobiography, of an interviewee. To record the history of a life does not mean to look for narrations able to describe the entire universe of an individual life. The autobiographic tales can describe just fragments of the existence of an interviewee, as far as these fragments represent a pragmatic and exemplar trait of her/his world.
In this perspective, it is necessary to pay attention to all the formulary expressions used by the interviewee, in order to record her/his interpretation of those. Those forms are fundamental parts of orality and its active transmission (Ong, 1986).
The interview is a crucial scientific part of this project.
The idea of Carlo Petrini of distributing small but performing video cameras to all the food communities will make possible to create a world network of interviewers. These will be able to document the gestures and speeches of the world and will allow food communities to represent and auto-represent their community by participating in the construction of a collective, democratic memory.
We think to five possible profiles of informants, which we summarize here into:
Profile 1 – Primary Orality : the interviewee received oral and gestural knowledge from the previous generations; traditional knowledge that s/he is transmitting to new generations.
Profile 2 – Secondary Orality: the interviewee received oral and gestural knowledge from the previous generations; s/he has transmitted this traditional, oral knowledge together with some elements that attains to literary culture to new generations.
Profile 3 – Orality/Literacy : the interviewee received oral and gestural knowledge from the previous generations; traditional knowledge that s/he did not transmit to new generations.
Profile 4 – Literacy : the interviewee had not receive oral and gestural knowledge from the previous generations and consequentially did not transmit this knowledge to new generations
Profile 5 – Return Orality : the interviewee did not receive oral and gestural knowledge from the previous generation; however s/he is interested in traditional forms of knowledge and aim to re-take possession of those.
The interviewee should be a memory-bearer: a keeper of traits of traditional knowledge; a witness of historic and social events that are fundamental to understand the structure and culture of the bearer’s social group, culture and community.
For this project, researchers must meet other individuals in order to document their knowledge.
The other, the cultural other, is an important anthropological concept that has been deeply studies during all the 20 th century.
The definition of other lays on the idea of culture as a complex system that encompasses individual and collective knowledge, and the apparatus of mental categories (ethical and moral values, believes, aesthetic principles, etc) through which a social group sees, considers and interacts with the world.
There are different models of interviews that are distinguis/hed by a different degree of freedom left to the interviewer in formulating questions and to the interviewee in answering them.
A first model is the structured questionnaire. A questionnaire is a set of questions to which the interviewee can answer only by choosing one of the proposed answers in the questionnaire. The questions as well as the answers are fixed and cannot be modified by either the interviewer and the interviewee.
An example of a questionnaire is the one used for the research “Nutrire Milano” [tr. To Nourish Milano].
A second model is the structured interview. A structured interview is a set of questions to which the interviewee can freely answer. However the questions are fixed and cannot be modified by the interviewer.
An example of such a set of question is the questionnaire publis/hed in the last part of Piercarlo Grimaldi’s “Il Calendario Contadino” (Milano, 1993).
This model of interviewing is used for qualitative researches. The results are statistically and numerically analyzed. This method require to administer the survey to a large number of informants, although this sample is smaller than the one required for a survey, that should be a representative sample of a community’s population. The statistical analysis of the data gathered is used to prove (or disprove) some initial hypothesis.
A third and final model is the unstructured interview. In this case, the interviewer asks the interviewee on the basis of a set of topics that s/he decides to enquire in the interview. In doing so, there is not a fixed set of questions, but they are adapted during the interview in a way that allows the interviewer to deepen her/his knowledge in the topics that s/he decided. The interviewer is free to modulate her/his questions on the basis of the received answers and the interviewee is free to answer as much extensively as s/he likes.
This model of interviews used for qualitative researches in which the comparability of the materials gathered is not a priority. It is particularly useful when the researcher wants to make the native point of view emerge and further her/his knowledge of the local culture.
In collecting materials for Granai della Memoria, the suggested method of interviewing is the unstructured interview.
Different researchers can contribute to “Granaio della memoria”, as interviewers, and document fragments of world’s memory: trained, academic researchers as well as people who do not possess all the theoretical and technical knowledge that an academic research would require.
Those interviewers can be classified into two main groups: certified researchers and non-certified researchers.
There has been a heated debate about the methodology of ethnographic interview which produced a extended body of literature that mirrors this long anthropological debate.
If we consider that Granai della Memoria have to preserve the “knowledge of the world”, we believe that the principal way to collect this vast universe of gesture and speech is to make the informants speak about their autobiographies.
If the interviewee demonstrates a spatially and chronologically organic memory (a memory that coherently develops in the long duration), the interviewer must only “gently” help the interviewee in recollecting and reconstructing her/his lived past.
Instead, if the interviewee demonstrate to be unable to follow an autonomous, mnemonic process, the interviewer must intervene by asking questions about the rites that scan the life of an individual (birth, adolescence, maturity, wedding, etc.), the community’s time (Carnival, Easter, etc…), and production.
The project ‘Granai della Memoria’, although characterized by its methodological specificities, is part of a broader scientific body that is aimed to the preservation and retrieval of collective memory.
Some other projects are :
University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education