72415 - Anthropology of Cultural Heritage (1)

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Anthropology, Religions, Oriental Civilizations (cod. 8493)

Learning outcomes

The course aims to reason, within the Italian and international debate, on the notion of tangible and intangible heritage, with the aim to identify characterizations and interpretative models. On the basis of reflections on specific ethnographies, the course is meant to prepare students for field research in the territories, institutions and museums. The course provides the tools to continue second and third level training in the field.

Course contents

Applied Anthropology of Museums and cultural heritage

Beginning of classes: 8th November 2020

Class hours:

Mo. 17-19. N.B. Mondays classes will be held remotely only.

Tu. 9-11. Aula Fumagalli, San Giovanni in Monte.

Wed. 15-17. Aula Grande, San Giovanni in Monte.


Main goal of this course is to investigate museums and cultural heritage both in their applied dimension and as objects of analysis and ethnographic practices.

The course will focus on the practices and processes of ‘Patrimonialization' in the multiplicity of their contexts of application: educational contexts and relative to the cultural and inter-cultural dimension, from learning, juridical contexts to those that have to do with economic activities, to the policies of identities, to the management of public resources and of conflicts. The concept itself of “Patrimonialization” provides us with the possibility of investigating ‘various and relational patrimonies' in a much more nuanced way than the notion of ‘patrimony' or ‘heritage', too often misused or taken as a synonym to ‘culture'. It gives moreover the possibility to look at those various patrimonies in their own dimension, beyond discourses centred on hierarchies, dichotomies or universalizing visions that are associated to the notion of ‘heritage’.

As the study of museums and cultural heritage are strongly related to topics of identity and memory and since that study accrues with complexity and depth to the meaning of artefacts, we will ask what kind of intellectual patrimony is to be associated to these artefacts?

What criteria have characterized in the past and still characterize in present days the exclusion of objects/subjects from the mise en scène in the Museums? What are the elements of agency, reciprocity, negotiation between museums and objects/subjects represented in present times? What is the meaning of concepts such as system, patrimony (included here the dichotomy between material and immaterial patrimony), market, memory, identity, culture, public?

The monographic part of the course also aims to investigate the role played by the ethnography of material culture in the new media, design and digital technology through a case study dealt with during classes. Moreover, compatibly with the restraints the post Covid1 academic year, a visit to a museum institution will be organized for a shared reflection and group activities will be carried out, useful for the development of the student's skills for the professional profile of the demoetnoantopologist in the field of Cultural Heritage, material and immaterial heritage and territorial museums.


3 mandatory readings: for both students attending classes and non-attending classes.

1. Harrison Rodney 2020, Il patrimonio culturale. Un approccio critico. Pearson


2. Miller D. 2021, The Global Smartphone. Beyond a youth technology, UCL Press: London. Freely downloadable at:


or, alternatively:

Miller D. 2013, Per un'antropologia delle cose, Ledizioni: Milano.


3. Luniddi M. 2019, Etnografia dei tombaroli della Tuscia, Europa Edizioni.

or, alternatively:

Paini A., Aria M.2014. La densità delle cose. Oggetti ambasciatori tra Oceania e Europa, Pacini, Pisa.


Further suggested readings (not mandatory): 

Bendix Regina F., Eggert Aditya, Peselmann Arnika, eds. (2012): [http://webdoc.sub.gwdg.de/univerlag/2012/GSCP6_Bendix.pdf] . Göttingen Studies on Cultural Property, Vol. 6. Göttingen: Göttingen University Press.


Bonettti Roberta e Simonicca Alessandro (a cura di) 2016, Etngorafia e processi di patrimonializzazione. CISU: ROMA.

Broccolini A. E V. Padiglione (a cura di) 2017, Ripensare i margini. L'Ecomuseo Casilino per la periferia di Roma, Aracne: Roma.

Ciabarri Luca (a cura di). 2018, Cultura Materiale, Oggetti, immaginari, desideri in viaggio tra mondi, Edizioni Libreria Cortina:Milano.

Cirese A.M. 2006, Beni volatili, stili, musei: diciotto altri scritti su oggetti e segni, Pietro Clemente, Gianfranco Molteni (a cura di), Gli ori, Prato.

Clemente P. 2014, Postfazione. Patrimonio culturale e antropologia applicata in Etnografia e processi di patrimonializzazione, R. Bonetti e A. Simonicca (a cura di) pp. 251-272.

Dei F. 2003, Beethoven e le mondine. Ripensare la cultura popolare. Meltemi: Milano (REPERIBILE IN PDF IN QUANTO ESAURITO. SCRIVERE ALLA DOCENTE).

Dei F. e Meloni P. 2015, Antropologia della cultura materiale. Carocci.

Edwards E., Gosden C., Phillips R.B., 2006 Sensible Objects. Colonialism, Museums and Material Culture, Oxford-New York, Berg.

Fournier L.S. E Giancristofaro L., 2020 LA RÉGRESSION DU PATRIMOINE. Études de cas en Italie et en France. coll. “Ethnologie de l’Europe”.

Hohenstein H. e Moussouri T. 2018, Museum Learning. Theory and Research as Tools for Enhancing Practice. Routledge: London and New York.

Karp I., Kratz C.A., Szwaja L., Ybarra-Frausto T. (edited by), 2006 Museum Frictions. Public Cultures/Global Transformation, Durham, Duke University Press.

Maffi I. 2006, "Introduzione" in Maffi i. (a cura di) "Il patrimonio culturale", Antropologia, numero monografico, 7, 6.

Marcus G. E. and Myers F. R. (ed). 1995. The Traffic in Culture: Refiguring Art and Anthropology . The University of California Press. 

Myers F. R., (2002) Painting Culture: The Making of an Aboriginal High Art. Duke University Press.

Paini A., Aria M.2014. La densità delle cose. Oggetti ambasciatori tra Oceania eEuropa, Pacini, Pisa.

Palumbo B. 2006, L'Unesco e il campanile. Antropologia, politica e beni culturali in Sicilia orientale, Meltemi.

Satta G. 2013, "Patrimonio Culturale", Parole Chiave, 49, numero monografico, pp. 1-18.

Schneider A. and Wright C. (ed.) 2010. Between Art and Anthropology: Contemporary Ethnographic Practice. Bloomsbury Academic.

Stocking G.W. jr, 2000 Gli oggetti e gli altri, saggi sui musei e sulla cultura materiale, Roma, Ei Editori.

Taussig M, 2019, l mio museo della cocaina, Mileu, Milano.

Thomas N. 1991. ‪Entangled Objects: ‪Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific . Harvard University Press.

Tilley C. 2006, Handbook of Material Culture. London: SAGE.

Teaching methods

A wide range of methodologies of teaching will be used to meet a varied set of needs and requests from students. The course will be conducted in a seminar-like fashion, and there will be group activities, with readings, presentations of ethnographic cases and film watchings. An active participation of students is requested, together with their willingness to contribute to the discussion of texts to be studied for the final exam.

Students who attend the course will agree with the teacher, individually or in groups, an essay on anthropology of heritage (among those available on IOL). The essay will be presented and discussed orally in a final meeting, possibly with the help of digital media.

Assessment methods

The student will have to hold an individual oral exam on the basis of the suggested bibliography, of the notes from the lectures and of the contributions made by their fellow classmates in class. The final evaluation is cumulative and will keep into account the students' involvement in any phase of the formative process. Active participation in class and in the lab activities is integral part of the final evaluation.

In particular, the following items will be tested:

command of theoretical and methodological basic knowledge as taught in lectures and seminars; command of elements of theoretical knowledge as provided by the bibliographical leads; capacity to critically scrutinize, observe, describe and analyze the various topics debated in the course; the student's ability to critically integrate any topics debated in class, their critical use and the command of the scientific language will award them notes of excellence.

Students attending the course will present a group work in a seminar-like fashion during the last classes of the course: every group will be assigned an ethnographic case to analyse according to the methodology learnt during classes.

Teaching tools

For the schedule of the lab activities, please consult the instructor's website.

Attending students, from September, are kindly invited to subscribe to the following mailing list in order to receive information about possible variations in lecture timetable and rooms:


Students will refer to the platform iol.unibo.it for the programme and group activities.

Office hours

See the website of Roberta Bonetti


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This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.