Cultural Anthropology (m) (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Anna Maria Paini
Anna Maria Paini
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
First half of Semester 2 dal Feb 26, 2018 al Apr 21, 2018.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

The course aims to get closer to objects from an anthropological perspective. Objects of the "others" inside/ outside museums. Through various different teaching methods (lectures, discussions, meetings with experts) the course aims to introduce students to a critical understanding of the notion of culture in its material and non-material aspects and of what is meant by the notion of "social life of things".


The course is divided into two parts. Initially the status of ethnographic objects, in and out of the museum institution will be considered. Then the course will focus on a particular type of museum objects: human remains. How they become part of ethnographic collections, what status they have taken, what do they represent today? We will analyze the complex questions that these objects pose: should they be considered findings of scientific interest, or rather sacred subjects/objects, emotionally significant because they are linked to one own ancestors? Who owns the right to speak on their behalf? We will look into these issues through some case studies related to both near and far away contexts.

Course Readings:
1)Dei, Fabio - Meloni, Pietro (2015) Antropologia della cultura materiale. Carocci, Roma.
2)Larson, Frances 2016 [2014] Teste mozze. Storie di decapitazioni, reliquie, trofei, souvenir e crani illustri. UTET, Torino.
3) Maria Teresa MiliciaElena Canadelli (2017) Il grande laboratorio dell'umanità. Il dibattito sulla repatriation dei resti umani tra storia e antropologia. Interventi di Kathleen S. Fine-Dare, Roger Blackley, Adriano Favole, Emmanuel Kasarhèrou, Anna Paini, Fenneke Sysling, Contemporanea, Rivista di storia dell'800 e del '900, n. 1, pp. 109-146.

Assessment methods and criteria

Final oral exam.

For those attening classes: class participation, in-class presentation and final report.

Erasmus and international students may study the texts and take the final exam in English or French.