• architecture;
  • baroque;
  • earthquake;
  • politics;
  • Sicily


Two earthquakes that struck Sicily nearly three centuries apart provide the basis for an interpretation of subsequent events. After the 1693 earthquake, local inhabitants rebuilt their towns in a version of baroque architecture that is unique to the region. After the 1990 quake, their descendants mounted a campaign to restore the crumbling landscapes and then, years later, to unite in opposition against an oil company that threatened the newly restored sites. Michel Serres's theory of the “parasite” informs a reading of the earthquakes and the events that followed them as agents that disrupted the flow of human-environment relationships and produced hybridized landscapes and political alliances. In this way the Sicilian baroque is both a style of architecture and a mode of social and political mobilization.