Monday , 11 December 2023
Breaking News

Discipline Filosofiche, XXXIV, 2, 2024: Philosophy and Anthropology: The Unending Encounter, ed. by Roberto Brigati and Maririta Guerbo

The appropriateness of a dialogue between anthropology and philosophy appears to be beyond doubt. What might call such an encounter into question, apparently, is rather the permeability of the disciplinary boundary separating them. The historical continuity between the two areas is uncontroversial, given that anthropology became an autonomous discipline by emancipating itself from philosophy, and so many leading anthropologists have been trained in philosophy. There is, however, also potentially far-reaching thematic and structural commonality, insofar as anthropology can offer philosophy a panoply of empirical objects of unique interest and philosophy can present concepts that invite anthropology’s engagement (if only to challenge their definition, disrupt them, or simply use them creatively). This encounter takes place against a history of past encounters and/or clashes – a mainly Western, indeed European history, which is variously intertwined with the artificial but effective opposition between two different philosophical paths: the continental and the analytical.
On the one hand, continental philosophy, especially when focussed on processes and structures rather than subjectivity and history, frames the encounter with anthropology in highly specific forms, associated with the structuralist legacy of Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009). On the other hand, and in a different cultural setting, originating with Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), a fruitful dialogue between cultural anthropologists and philosophers has long been in place. Philosophy of language, social philosophy and pragmatism brought the two disciplines closer together. This exchange was characterized by greater clarity in terms of the boundaries and tasks of each of the two sciences, insofar as it brought into focus the notion of representation, rejected by structuralist philosophy whilst being a valuable tool for cultural relativism.
Nowadays, willingness to question such presuppositions as representationalism and cultural relativism marks a new phase in anthropology, one that is particularly interested in the very philosophy that had previously discarded the issue of anthropos. Dialogue can take the form of compromise, e.g. by exploiting some crucial concepts isolated from the whole of their authors’ theoretical production. This is the case with Michel Foucault’s (1926-1984) subjectivation and technologies of the self, or Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s (1908-1961) notion of the flesh (chair), which become keywords within the theoretical elaboration of ethnographic material itself. Alternatively, the encounter can be framed in more disruptive and overarching terms, as in the attempt at reconstruction of the field by anthropologist-philosopher Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (1951).
More specifically, dissatisfaction with cultural relativism and the implicit exclusion of a unitary theoretical perspective seem to bring philosophy and anthropology closer together. However, this rapprochement is regarded as dangerous for the discipline’s autonomy or, worse, as amateurish by many anthropologists.
The rejection of cultural relativism had already defined the theoretical effort of the founder of Italian religious ethnology, Ernesto De Martino (1908-1965), an effort that nevertheless, until the 1960s, remained isolated from the international debate on the subject. As De Martino insisted, the adequacy of this theoretical encounter depends on the forms of its historical actuality, i.e. on the ethical-political needs of the societies theorists belong to. If anthropology emerged as a science of the apocalypse, devoted to studying and theorizing what is vanishing, not in order to preserve it in a museum-like manner but to uphold it in the forms of a conceptual description, today more than ever, philosophy seems to have a vital need for this encounter.

This is the thematic area that this volume aims to explore. Authors are encouraged to submit wide-ranging contributions, preferably (but not exclusively) related to one or more of the following themes:
1) relativism and anti-relativism;
2) the concept of representation and its limits;
3) conceptual uses of ethnographic material;
4) anthropological uses of philosophical concepts;
5) moments of the encounter between philosophy and anthropology;
6) interdisciplinary junctions (habit, body, need, environment, cultural poetics and politics).

Guidelines for the authors: Submissions should not exceed 9,000 words including abstract, refer-ences and footnotes. Manuscripts may be submitted in Italian, English, French, German, or Spanish. They must be sent as an email attachment in .doc or .docx format, along with a .pdf version, to Roberto Brigati ( and to Maririta Guerbo ( Submitted manuscripts will be sent to two independent reviewers, following a double-blind peer review process. The reviewers may ask authors to make changes or improvements to their contributions in view of publication. Authors are kindly requested to attach both an anonymous version of their contribution entitled “Manuscript” and a separate “Cover Page” stating their name, academic affiliation and contact details. Manuscripts must include an English abstract of less than 150 words and 5 keywords. Any property of the file that might identify the author must be removed to ensure anonymity during the review process. A notification of receipt will be issued for each submission. In drafting their text, authors can adopt any clear and coherent style, but should the text be accepted for publication, they will be required to send a final version in keeping with the style guidelines of the journal (please refer to the style guidelines at Submission of a manuscript is understood to imply that the paper has not been published before and that it is not being considered for publication by any other journal. Should the manuscript be accepted for publication, the author will be required to transfer copyrights to the University of Bologna. Requests to republish the article may be made to the Editorial Board of the Journal.

Deadline for the submission of manuscripts: June 15, 2024
Notification of acceptance, conditional acceptance, or rejection: August 31, 2024
Deadline for the submission of the final draft: October 15, 2024