Mercedes García-Arenal

A Polyphony of Voices. Trials and Graffiti of the Prisons of the Inquisition in Palermo

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Keywords: Inquisition; Graffiti; Palermo; Voice and Testimony.

This essay focuses on the graffiti in a single cell of the Inquisition's prisons in Palermo, supplemented with inquisitorial trial records and documents produced during an inspection of the Sicilian Inquisition at the behest of the Suprema in Madrid. The graffiti in combination with these documents allow us to hear a polyphony of voices, not just the dialogic relation of inquisitors and victims that has been questioned by historians, but a new landscape which gives voice to the inmates themselves. I aim at perceiving the voices of the prisoners, but also at the construction of their religious identity under the impact of their incarceration and trial at the hands of the Inquisition. I suggest that we see in cell 2 religious identity not as something that the inmates already had before, and which then underwent a process of radicalization, but rather as something actually created in the specific context of the prison.

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