Social Morphogenesis and Mobility. The Making of the Ethnic Difference in the Greek and Albanian Settlements in Southern Italy (XVIth-XVIIIth centuries)
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The history of the Greek and Albanian settlements in Southern Italy was the result of the migration flows triggered by the Ottoman conquests during the Renaissance. The subsequent retention of local aggregations on ethnic bases has aroused the interest of local historians since the end of the XVIIIth century as well as has cultivated their requests for cultural distinction. In fact, the historical (re)production of Greek and Albanian ethnic grouping has been explained as the effect of an instinct of conservation: of the language (Greek and Albanian), of the Byzantine rite, of homeland customs. Against these interpretations, I argue that the social reproduction of ethnic identification has been made possible by the convergence of two forms of mobilities connected to the market of priest ordinations. The sources produced by the Congregation of the Greeks (1566-1596) and Propaganda Fide (from 1622 onwards) makes it possible to identify the permanence of intermittent (but continuous) visits between Orthodox emissaries traveling throughout the Spanish monarchy's domain and candidates for the sacred orders from the Greek and Albanian settlements dispersed in southern Italy. The making and renewing of relations between Italian clerics of Byzantine rite and Eastern prelates has allowed the «Greek» and «Albanian» ethnonyms to function as operators in social morphogenesis within most of the settlements born from those migrations at least up to the middle of the 18th century.