Lecturers share their passion in writing

Will Peterson
Senior lecturer Dr Will Peterson has researched Easter passion plays and other mass street ‘theatre’ in the Philippines.

Fascinating insights into South Australia’s Italian community – and the passion plays of the Philippines – are poles apart in subject matter but both have links to Flinders University.

The two special interest books have just published by senior lecturers from the School of Humanities and Creative Arts.

Senior drama lecturer Dr William Peterson has released a “labour of love” analysis called Places for Happiness: Community, Self, and Performance in the Philippines, while Italian senior lecturer and researcher Dr Daniela Cosmini-Rose has edited Ageing Between Cultures: The Experiences and Challenges of Italian Migrants in South Australia.

In Places for Happiness, Dr Peterson has spent 10 years of field work looking at the importance of mass street dancing and cultural significance of Easter processions and Passion Plays in the Philippines.

The scale of these important activities “marks the Philippines as one of the world’s most significant and under-valued performance-centred cultures”.

Dr Peterson says the research into passion plays (sinakulo) commenced when he was on study leave as a visiting professor at the University of the Philippines.

He was enthralled by the spectacle of the pre-dawn Easter Sunday ritual known as the salubong in which the veil of mourning is lifted from an effigy of Mother Mary.

The visual, aural and sheer drama of the event drew him back, year after year.

“These events are marked by experiences that are set off from the rest of our lives, and this is also why we are compelled to return each year,” he says.

“For poor and working class Filipinos, this kind of drama is the single most important activity that binds them together as a community, and distinguishes them from other communities.

“I too felt the physical and spiritual pull that made me wish to come back and repeat the experience every year.”

Meanwhile, the history of South Australia’s Italian migrants starts the new book by senior lecturer Dr Cosmini-Rose.

Supported by a faculty grant, Dr Cosmini-Rose says the new volume addresses the multiple dimensions of the ageing experience of the Italian migrant community in South Australia, the largest ethnic ageing group in Australia.

With contributions from historians, migration scholars, social scientists and a medical practitioner, this interdisciplinary volume addresses the ageing experience of Italian migrants including health and wellbeing, intergenerational family care-giving practices and the role of language and culture in the ageing process.

“This comprehensive study on an elderly migrant minority, their families and communities, is a valuable contribution to the literature of migration and ageing and serves as a framework for the development of aged care models for other migrant communities,” says Dr Cosmini-Rose.

“It analyses how the Italian elderly gather the information they need in an era when governments and businesses use the Internet and mobile devices to disseminate information about services and products,”

“It examines the home as the locus and symbol of migratory goals and discusses how food habits remain psychologically and physiologically significant in later life.

“The role of religion and spirituality as well as the significance of migrants’ personal belongings as cultural markers are also covered.”

Contributors to the volume include Flinders academics Dr Cosmini-Rose, Professor Desmond O’Connor, Professor Diana Glenn, Dr Irene Belperio, Dr Kenneth Goodall and Professor Paul Ward – along with Karen Agutter, Daniela Costa, Francesca Bouvet, Lareen Newman and Tony Paganoni.

Purchases of the books can be made online: Ageing Between Cultures: The Experiences and Challenges of Italian Migrants in South Australia (Troubador here) Places for Happiness: Community, Self, and Performance in the Philippines (University of Hawaii Press here 

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