Cultural Anthropology SC (i) (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Anna Maria Paini
Anna Maria Paini
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem 2B dal Apr 6, 2020 al May 30, 2020.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

The course is designed to introduce students to a critical understanding of key concepts of the discipline in order to analyze through them how different contemporary situations are approached in the media, highlighting the peculiar sensitivity and the potentiality of an anthropological gaze.

At the end of the course the student is expected to :
a) have a better understanding of the main categories used within anthropology to understand inter-cultural processes.
b) become acquainted with anthropological research practices;
c) be capable of making use of the acquired tools to approach contemporary (inter)cultural processes;
d) be capable of a critical approach regarding relevant issues in the public debate.


Anthropological knowledge is a practical knowledge, action oriented, and constantly engaging with other world views. Starting from these premises, the course will be divided into two parts:

Part one: Concepts and methodological tools within Anthropology

The critical analysis of some objects of study of the discipline, such as culture, boundaries, belonging, differences, representation of alterity, practices and local knowledge as well as the methodological tools of the discipline (participant observation and ethnographic interviews).

Part two: Differences, cultural stereotypes and fake news

The analysis of cases of "false rumors" circulating in the media from print media to the internet in the post-truth era. In some cases, these untruths/distortions are harmless, in others they are deliberate manipulations created ad hoc, news built on stereotypes, which can have devastating effects. Critically addressing "fake news" is a vital issue for students who are involved in communications. During the course we will deal with a particular type of "lies"(untruth/distortion), those that are fed from an imagery filled with cultural stereotypes. Fake news creates dangerous short circuits.

Course Readings:
1)Ugo Fabietti, 2015, Elementi di Antropologia culturale. Terza edizione. Mondadori Università

2) Silverman, Craig (2014) Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content.
How News Websites Spread (and Debunk) Online Rumors, Unverified Claims and Misinformation.
Available from

3) Rivera, Annamaria (2015) La guerra dei simboli. Veli postcoloniali e retoriche dell'alterità, Dedalo, Bari, including glossary pp.125-133.

Further Readings:

Biscaldi, Angela e Matera, Vincenzo, 2019, Antropologia dei social media, Carocci ed, Roma.

Bloch, Marc, 2004, La guerra e le false notizie, Donzelli, Roma.

Erikson, Thomas, 2017, Fuori controllo. Un'antropologia del cambiamento accellerato, Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, To.
(2016 Overheating: An Anthropology of Accelerated Change, Pluto Press, London).

Quattrociocchi, Walter, 2016, Misinformation: guida alla società dell'informazione e della credulità, FrancoAngeli, Mi.

Salmon, Christian, 2008, Storytelling. La fabbrica delle storie. Fazio Editore, Roma.
(2007 Storytelling. La machine à fabriquer les images et à formater les esprits, Paris, La Découverte)
Salmon, Christian, 2016, Post-verità, la Repubblica online, 17 novembre

Tuckle, Sherry, 2016, La conversazione necessaria: la forza del dialogo nell'era digitale. Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, To
(2015 Reclaiming Conversation. The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Penguin Press, London - paperpack 2016)

Assessment methods and criteria

Final oral exam on the whole program; the student is asked questions about the course readings and about the main thematic issues they addressed. The student should bring with her/him the texts which s/he has studied.
The final evaluation is based on 30/30.
The oral test wants to verify:
- the breadth of knowledge gained;
- the use of a correct language;
- the ability to make connections and to discuss them.

For those attending classes : class participation, in-class presentation and reports/papers . More specific details will be given at the beginning of the course.

Erasmus and international students may study the texts and take the final exam in English or French. If interested, they need to discuss the choice of the new reading materials with me during Office hours.