Shaping humans. From prehistory to initiation rites


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22 Stefano Allovio

Shaping humans. From prehistory to initiation rites

€ 3.00
Sunday 28 May 2017 4:00 pm
piazza San Bartolomeo 1

As Pico della Mirandola pointed out in the 15th century, human beings can be extraordinarily clever in moulding and sculpting themselves. There are clearly some constraints associated with their biology, but culture then intervenes to give them shape. This happens both within the overall evolutionary process and in the course of every person’s life. Phylogenesis and ontogenesis are two imposing paleoanthropological scenarios where culture’s power in building humanity can be seen. Paleoanthropological studies have suggested that some major discoveries - for example fire and cooking food - marked the beginning of the Human race. Ethno-anthropological studies reveal that the idea human beings literally need “intervention” from the moment of birth and, even more so, during specific rites of initiation into adult life is very widespread, seen in many different societies. The aim is to imprint a specific model of humanity on their very bodies.




Stefano Allovio teaches Cultural Anthropology and Social Anthropology at the Università Statale in Milan. He has conducted ethnographic studies in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and in the Western Alps. In addition to writing many essays, he is the author of the following books: Burundi. Identità, etnie e potere nella storia di un antico regno (Il Segnalibro, 1997); La foresta di alleanze. Popoli e riti in Africa equatoriale (Laterza, 1999); Culture in transito. Trasformazioni, performance e migrazioni nell’Africa sub-sahariana (Franco Angeli, 2002); Culture e congiunture. Saggi di etnografia e storia mangbetu (Guerini, 2006); Sapersi muovere. Pastori transumanti di Roaschia (with Marco Aime and Pier Paolo Viazzo, Meltemi, 2001); Pigmei, europei e altri selvaggi (Laterza, 2010); and Riti di iniziazione. Antropologi, stoici e finti immortali (Raffaello Cortina, 2014).

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