Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FM0124 (AF:398475 AR:214234)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
Go to Moodle page
The course is addressed to the students of the following master's degree courses:
1) CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY, ETHNOLOGY AND ETHNOLINGUISTICS (ACEL): up to the academic year 2021-22 is mandatory for the Geographic and Demo-Ethno-Anthropological curricula and optional for the Historical and Orientalistic curricula; from the academic year 2022-23 is optional for all courses;
2) EUROPEAN, AMERICAN AND POSTCOLONIAL LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES: optional for the curricula "estudios ibéricos and iberoamericanos" and "literatures and cultures".
The course aims to introduce students to the africanistic Anthropology through the analysis of the post-colonial debates on the role of the discipline and its studies on the African continent. In parallel, the course introduces some classical themes of africanistic Anthropology to examine their developments over time. Although North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are regions often considered as belonging to different disciplinary areas, as far as possible, the course will attempt to maintain a unified look, both in the theoretical reflections and the proposed readings.
The course aims at promoting the following skills: reading of scientific texts, synthesis of complex concepts and themes, critique, writing and oral expression.
At the end of the course, students will be acquainted with the international critical debates on the role of Cultural Anthropology in study of social and cultural realities in Africa with its main themes and theoretical perspectives, and will be able position themselves and contribute to the discussion. Students will master some of the main themes of Africanistic investigation and the most recent anthropological reflections on contemporary processes in the continent. They will acquire the skills of using different materials to explore relevant themes, write and express themselves orally using the language and the main concepts of the discipline. Students will also acquire the conceptual tools and the basic skills that enable them to explore specific issues concerning contemporary social and cultural dynamics in Africa both through research and applied research conducted in areas of interest.
Although no particular prerequisites are required, it is advisable that students possess a basic knowledge of the main theoretical approaches and research methods characterising Social and Cultural Anthropology. Students enrolled in other programs are required to write to the lecturer for the assessment of their general competence in Cultural Anthropology and the identification of an appropriate programme.
Africa is a vast and ecologically diverse continent characterized by different and plural societies from a linguistic, economic, historical and social point of view. It is also a continent that is demographically young and open to contemporaneity, and despite its long history of expropriation ­– through slavery, colonization, resource-grabbing, patronage and corruption – it continues to influence the ability of states to claim and negotiate a position of equality with the rest of the world. Cultural Anthropology has built a significant part of its research tradition in Africa, sometimes producing models in keeping with primitivist colonial visions, but also often raising a critical voice with respect to the past and present processes of domination. In these problematic circumstances, the discipline’s main mission has progressively dedicated its attention at describing and revealing the variety of human experience lifeworlds of people and groups that were often depicted as inferior and backward according to the colonial reason. After a brief general introduction to the languages of the continent, the course aims at analysing the debate on the role of Cultural Anthropology in Africa and deepening some relevant issues addressed by anthropologists who have worked in Africa within classical as well as more recent theoretical approaches, namely: a) social and political organization; b) witchcraft; c) rituals and religion; d) social change and globalization; e) gender and generations; f) human mobility. Such topics correspond to themes of general anthropological relevance, but they also lead to understand the challenges of the present and the multiplicity of the possible research fields.
1) Compulsory reading: Falk Moore, Sally, Anthropology and Africa: Changing perspectives on a changing scene. University of Virginia, 1994.
2) Articles, book chapters and other texts will be made available in Moodle

1) Main reading: Falk Moore, Sally, Anthropology and Africa: Changing perspectives on a changing scene. University of Virginia, 1994.
2) Articles, book chapters and other texts made available in Moodle
3) A monograph to be selected among the following works:

a) Social and political organization:
Evans-Pritchard Edward E., The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People, Oxford University Press, 1969.
Hart David, Tribe and Society in Rural Morocco, Routledge, 2000.

b) Witchcraft:
Evans-Pritchard Edward E., Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande, Oxford University Press, 1976.
Geschiere Peter, Sorcellerie et politique en Afrique. La viande des autres, Karthala, 1995 (also available in English: The Modernity of Whitchcraft. Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial
Africa, University of Virginia Press, 1997).

c) Rituals and religion:
Turner Victor, The Forest of Symbols: Aspects Of Ndembu Ritual, Cornell University Press, 1970.
Schirripa Pino, Profeti in città. Etnografia di quattro chiese indipendenti del Ghana, Progetto 2000, 1992.

d) Social change and globalization:
Piot Charles, Nostalgia for the future. West Africa after the Cold War. University of Chicago Press, 2010.
Vacchiano Francesco, Antropologia della dignità. Aspirazioni, moralità e ricerca del benessere nel Marocco contemporaneo, Ombre Corte, 2021.

e) Gender and generations:
Shostak Marjorie, Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, Harvard University Press, 1981.
Ghannam Farha, Live and Die Like a Man: Gender Dynamics in Urban Egypt, Stanford University Press, 2013.
Weiss Brad, Street Dreams and Hip Hop Barbershops: Global Fantasy in Urban Tanzania, Indiana University Press, 2009.
Honwana Alcinda, Youth and Revolution in Tunisia, Zed Books, 2013.

g) Human mobilities:
Gaibazzi Paolo, Bush Bound. Young Men and Rural Permanence in Migrant West Africa, Berghahn, 2015.
McMurray David A., In & Out of Morocco. Smuggling and Migration in a Frontier Boomtown, University of Minnesota Press, 2001.
Capello Carlo, Le prigioni invisibili. Etnografia multisituata della migrazione marocchina, Angeli, 2012.
Attendance is not mandatory, but attending students are required to attend the lessons with constancy and participation, intervening in classes and animating the debate on the topics under consideration. Starting from the second part of the course, attending students are required to introduce the day subject by presenting, in small groups, a review of two/three articles/chapters suggested by the instructor, encouraging questions and generating the discussion with colleagues. The class will then proceed by exploring the questions raised in the presentation and debate, moving progressively toward theoretical analysis.
In order to undertake the exam, both attending and non-attending students are required to submit a brief essay of maximum 22,000 characters, spaces and bibliographic references included, to be sent to the teacher in pdf format fifteen days before the chosen exam session. Specific writing and editing instructions will be made available in Moodle. Attending students can produce the essay in small groups, while non-attending students should prepare it individually.
The essay will be discussed in an oral examination aimed at assessing both the knowledge on the topics covered in classes and the capacity of oral expression of the candidates.
The final grade will take into account the appropriateness of contents and language and, for attending students, the level of involvement and participation in classes and the quality of their presentations.

The course is taught through lectures, audio-visual materials, class discussion and group presentation of selected articles.
The lecturer receives students in his study, upon appointment to be previously arranged by email.
written and oral
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 03/09/2022