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CODE 65629
SEMESTER 1° Semester


The study of anthropos is an easy target for reductionism: it is often reduced to its cultural or biological aspects. Nevertheless, the nature-culture dichotomy is hardly ever questioned. To be human means to be a product of - and to produce - a specific human world, it means to be immersed in an specific relational environment that shapes our being.



The course presents a broad introduction to the basic concepts of anthropology - variability, differentiation, phylogenetic evolution - to arrive at multiple bio-cultural strategies developed by different human populations, the anthropology of health and ethnopsychology. Particular importance is given to the critical analysis of data and theories.


At the end of the course students will be able to

1) expose the fundamental topics and areas of research of contemporary anthropology;
2) remember and connect main anthropological theories and the data upon which they are construed;
3) appreciate human variability and the plurality of existing "human worlds", reading them according to the scientific data presented in the course;
4) critically analyze scientific data and theories, understanding their social, ethical and political implications;
5) analyize the filed of health / illness / therapy / healing in a complex and anthropologically sound way.




The course is entirely developed through lessons delivered by the teacher or, in some cases, by experts in the anthropological field or on relevant themes. If time allows, a short film club can be organized at the end of the course, aimed at conveying, in its minimal form, the sensation known as "anthropological bewilderment".


1) Biological and cultural anthropology: conceptual analysis of the divide.

2) Natural hisotry, theory of evolution and genetics from Darwin through the XX century.

3) Human phylogeny: evolutionary timeline, systematics, close relatives, paleoanthropology.

4) Human ontogeny: variability, bio-culture, practices and implicit knowledge..

5) Medical anthropology

6) Ethnopsychiatry.


Preparation for the exam with 6 CFU syllabus involves the full study of the lecture notes (a), and in-depth study of one topic of your choice, from among those presented in the lecture notes, through the study of one monograph of your choice from the list (b) and one article of your choice from the list (c).

Preparation for the 9 CFU syllabus exam involves the full study of the lecture notes (a), and in-depth study of two topics of your choice, from among those presented in the lecture notes, through the study, for each of them, of a monograph of your choice from the list (b) and an article of your choice from the list (c).


Lecture notes (a) and part of the choice articles from list (c) will be made available to students during class (nonattending students can request them by emailing the lecturer). The texts in list (b), generally available in Genoa libraries, should all still be available in bookstores.

(a) Lecture notes.

(b) Books' list:

  • Barbujani G., 2006. L’invenzione delle razze. Bompiani, Milano.
  • Barbujani G. & Brunelli A., 2018. Il giro del mondo in sei milioni di anni. Il Mulino, Bologna.
  • Baroni W., Boni F., Consigliere S., Petti G., 2022. Spettri della pandemia. PM Edizioni, Varazze (SV).
  • Beneduce R., Etnopsichiatria. Sofferenza mentale e alterità fra storia, dominio e cultura. Carocci, Milano.
  • Cipriano P., 2015. Il manicomio chimico. Elèuthera, Milano 2015.
  • Coppo P., 2003. Tra psiche e culture. Elementi di etnopsichiatria. Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 2003.
  • Coppo P., 2005. Le ragioni del dolore. Etnopsichiatria della depressione. Bollati Boringhieri, Torino.
  • Coppo P., 2013. Le ragioni degli altri. Etnopsichiatria, etnopsicoterapie. Raffaello Cortina, Milano.
  • Corbey R., 2005. Metafisiche delle scimmie. Negoziando il confine animali-umani. Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 2008. [also available in English]
  • Despret V., 2001. Le emozioni. Etnopsicologia dell’autenticità. Elèuthera, Milano 2002. [existe aussi en français]
  • Good B.J., 1994. Narrare la malattia. Edizioni di Comunità, Torino 1999. [also available in English]
  • Gould S.J., 1993. Otto piccoli porcellini. Riflessioni di storia naturale. Il Saggiatore, Milano, 2003. [also available in English]
  • Hazen R., 2013. Breve storia della Terra. Il Saggiatore, Milano 2017. [also available in English]
  • Illich I., 1976. Nemesi medica. L'espropriazione della salute.            Red!, Milano 1991-2005. [also available in English]
  • Ingold T. & Pallson G. (eds), 2013. Biosocial becomings. Integrating social and biological anthropology. CUP, Cambridge 2013.
  • Jablonka E. & Lamb M., 2005. L’evoluzione in quattro dimensioni. Variazione genetica, epigenetica, comportamentale e simbolica nella storia della vita. UTET, Torino 2007. [also available in English]
  • LeVine R.A. & New R.S. (a cura di), 2008. Antropologia e infanzia. Sviluppo, cura, educazione: studi classici e contemporanei. Raffaello Cortina Editore, Milano 2009. [also available in English]
  • Lewontin R., 1993. Biologia come ideologia. La dottrina del DNA.  Bollati Boringhieri, Torino. [also available in English]
  • Quaranta I. (a cura di), 2006. Antropologia medica. I testi fondamentali. Raffaello Cortina, Milano.
  • Rogoff B., 2003. La natura culturale dello sviluppo, Raffaello Cortina, Milano 2004. [also available in English]
  • Sahlins M., 1972. L'economia dell'età della pietra. Elèuthera, Milano 2020. [also available in English]
  • Scott J., 2017. Le origini della civiltà. Una controstoria. Einaudi, Torino. [also available in English]
  • Sheldrake M., 2020. L'ordine nascosto. La vita segreta dei funghi. Marsilio, Venezia 2020 [also available in English]
  • Sow I., L'io culturale. Dall'etnopsichiatria alla transcultura. Armando editore, Roma. [existe aussi en français]

(3) Papers' list::

  • Chandler M.J. & Lalonde C., 1998. Cultural continuity as a hedge against suicide in Canada’s First Nations.  «Transcultural psychiatry» 35, 2, pp. 191-220.
  • Coppo P. & Consigliere S., 2009. Psicologie, etnopsichiatria, sistemi di cura. «Humana.Mente. Journal of Philosophical Studies» n. 11, Oct. 2009, pp. 125-136.
  • Csordas T.J., 1990. Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology. «Ethos» 18 (1), pp. 5-47.
  • Deutscher G., 2010. Pensieri obbligati. «Internazionale» 867 (08/10/2010), pp. 54-58. [also available in English: ]
  • Dobbs D., 2013. Die, Selfish Gene, Die. In Obasogie O.K. & Darnovsky M., Beyond Bioethics. University of California Press, Oakland (CA) 2018, pp. 445-460.
  • Gardner L.I., 1972. Nanismo da deprivazione. «Le Scienze» 50, pp. 72-78. [also available in English]
  • Good B.J., 1994. Narrare la malattia. Lo sguardo antropologico sul rapporto medico-paziente. Torino: Edizioni di Comunità, 1999.
  • Gould S.J. & Lewontin R.C., 1979. I pennacchi di San Marco e il paradigma di Pangloss. Critica del programma adattazionista. Torino: Einaudi (Piccola Biblioteca on line), 2001. [also available in English]
  • Graeber D. & Wengrow D., 2018. How to change the course of human history (at least, the part that's already happened). «Eurozine»
  • Hahn R., 1999. Expectations of sickness: concept and evidence of the nocebo phenomenon. In: Kirsch I., How expectancies shape experience. American Psychological Association, Washington D.C. 1999, pp. 333-356.
  • Ingold T., 2022. Evolution without inheritance. Steps to an ecology of learning. «Current Anthropology» 65, suppl. 25, pp. S32-S55.
  • Lestel D., 2009. Pensare con l’animale. «Discipline filosofiche» XIX (1), 2009, pp. 153-169.
  • Margulis L., 2001. Simbiosi ovunque. «Kaiak. A Philosophical Journey» 7 (2020). [also available in English]
  • Marmot M., 2005. Social determinants of health inequalities. «Lancet» 365, pp. 1099–1104.
  • Novick D., Haro J.M., Hong J., Brugnoli R., Lepine J.P., Bertsch j., Karagianis J., Dossenbach M., Alvarez E., 2012. Regional differences in treatment response and three year course of schizophrenia across the world. «Journal of Psychiatric Research» 46, pp. 856-864
  • Ochs E. & Schieffelin B.B., 1984. L’acquisizione del linguaggio e la socializzazione. Tre percorsi evolutivi e le loro implicazioni. In: Shweder R.A. & LeVine R.A., 1984. Mente, Sé, emozioni. Per una teoria della cultura. Argo, Lecce 1997, pp. 317-362. [also available in English]
  • Ramirez-Goicoechea E., 2013. Life-in-the-making: epigenesis, biocultural environments and human becomings. In: Ingold T. & Palsson G. (eds), 2013. Biosocial becomings. Integrating social and biological anthropology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2013, pp. 59-83.




Monday, the 18th of September 2023

Class schedule




Passing the exam requires (1) knowledge of the exam syllabus, i.e., the contents of the lecture notes, and (2) critical study of one (6 CFU) or two (9 CFU) of the topics covered in the lecture notes through the study of the proposed books and articles, organically chosen in view of the critical analysis. 

The exam consists of an interview. Students will first be asked to expose their in-depth analysis through the chosen literature; after that, their knowledge of the themes presented in the lecture notes will be assessed.

Learning outcomes, assessment method and bibliography are identical both for students who follow the lessons and for those who do not.


Knowledge of the contents of the lecture notes counts for 24/30 of the final vote. The capacity to develop a critical in-depth analysis of an anthropological theme counts for 6/30 of the final vote.


Exams are normally held at the Anthropology Section of DISFOR (via Balbi 4, 4th floor) and begin at 9.00. Only in case of further global health emergencies, examinations will be made through the Teams platform. Inscriptions must be made through the apposite UniGe web service, as detailed by the University rules. Students who work or with special needs will be examined first.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Good health and well being
Good health and well being
Reduce inequality
Reduce inequality