Negotiating the traditions: the public roles of anthropology in Italy and Czechoslovakia in historical perspective
Davide Torsello (Central European University)
Paper short abstract:
The paper explores the public positions of anthropology in three different national contexts: Italy and the Czech and Slovak Republics. The assumption is that, although under different intellectual traditions, anthropology has long strived to establish a public role in these different contexts.
Paper long abstract:
The paper explores the public positions of anthropology in three different national contexts: Italy, the Czech and Slovak Republics. The basic assumption is that, although under different intellectual traditions, in these three contexts anthropology has long strived to establish a recognized public role. The main difficulty derives from the local traditions of anthropology more linked to folklore and ethnological studies rather than to the Anglo-American schools. In Italy, anthropology has only started to gain a public position among the social and human sciences by seeking a painful divorce from the longstanding historical and philosophical traditions. Such a divorce is far from being unproblematic. Present day Italian anthropologists face a continuous process of negotiating the disciplinary identity with the far more established sociological school. In the two republics of the former Czechoslovakia anthropology has even a harder fate. Here also, the powerful 'folklore legacy' has constructed barriers to prevent the establishing of an individual field of study. Unlike in Italy, however, the postsocialist reforms are pushing fast towards an internationalisation of academic educational standards. The discourse over the consolidation of a public role of anthropology in these three countries is tightly connected to the role of the state as a reformer one the one hand, and the intellectual involvement of the single anthropologists on the other.
A WCAA debate: the public image of anthropology