(Monographic volume edited by Fabio Dei, Miriana Meli, Pierangelo Pedani, Severino Saccardi, Giacomo Trentanovi and Stefano Zani)

The volume is designed to promote many-sided considerations concerning the ongoing changes of our “global world”. The starting point of such considerations was already suggested by Ernesto Balducci’s work L’uomo planetario and it has inevitably given us an opportunity to think about the (psychological, social, economic and educational) effects of the current pandemic crisis, which has been affecting (though with different degrees) the world population. In such a debate; dedicated above all (as the title highlights) to anthropological, existential and cultural topics with regard to the occurring changes the suggested multi-lateral analysis could not ignore the new elements that the current dramatic transition is causing on our lifestyle, mentality, social and interpersonal relationships, the context of which is (perhaps) changing-over globalization. 


Abstracts of the articles from the volume:

What is Missing in the Night: Inquiry into a Changing World 

by Severino Saccardi

While meditating on the more general features of our changing world (and not specifically on the topic of Coronavirus) it is impossible not to think about the rapid spread (on the paths and the pace of globalisation) of a pandemic that inevitably affects the destinies of the single countries and of the whole world. Ina time of uncertainty, which could be regarded as an opportunity it is important to discuss the political, cultural and socio-economic issues (like the West-East dialogue and Europe’s responsibility) so that we can reconcile the recovery from a very severe crisis and sustainability. Nonetheless it is necessary as well to pay attention to the anthropological elements and the symbolic resources with the aim of raising awareness about a meaningful fact: Our only house is the world. The sign and direction of the ongoing transformations mirror our choices. 

Metaphysics of the Pest

A dialogue between Sergio Givone and Severino Saccardi

On one hand the thoughts aroused by the pandemic emergency make us realise that the virus is “nature” (and as such it can be fought by using scientific rationality). On the other it is true that extreme situations like the pandemic evoke the ancient categories of “fault” and “destiny”. It is the metaphysics of the pest, as described by Thucydides, Camus, Boccaccio and McCarthy, that seems to suggest a password: “every man for himself”. It is exactly these authors, who observe that this type of destiny (involving going back to the State of nature) brings to the surface the human imperative preaching “love thy neighbour as thyself”. In this particularly important period of Coronavirus science as well warns us as well about the only chance we have not to be overwhelmed: acting responsibly as individuals and communities and behaving as if everyone’s life was at stake. 

When we stepped down from the World for a Moment

By Fabio Dei

After the break requested by the pandemic, over the end of June and the beginning of July 2020 life went on as before. Fear was replaced by the desire to recover also from an economic point of view, in a way that makes us strongly doubt about a reconsideration of our previous lifestyle caused by the pandemic emergency. And yet, there is something about our lifestyle and our growth model that needs a change, not just due to the unusual situation occurring, but rather because we must create a new model, which takes into account an existential (and socio-economic) uncertainty this peculiar year brought us to face. 

Masks and Faces in Times of the Pandemic 

by Pietro Leandro di Giorgi

The Corona virus epidemic is a real turning point. Ernesto Balducci’s work La Terra del Tramonto (The Land of Sunset) of 1992 already pointed out about the “collapse of nature due to the manipulation to which man has subjected it”. We are now facing social and anthropological changes mainly affecting interpersonal relations caused by the use of masks and social distancing (both imposed as health containment measures). Such measures could dangerously create a mood of social distrust by limiting the interactions we have with each other. 

Back to Nembro 

by Gigi Riva

Nembro is a tiny village in “Valseriana” a valley in the province of Bergamo. It is an area that has become painfully famous as the Coronavirus caused here the death of more people than anywhere else. Even though it was not a “war”, the villagers now suffer from the post-traumatic syndrome. In small villages where everyone knows each other it is easy to realise, who is no longer there. The lives of those, who remain takes up again. There is a certain willing of starting over again, but one has to cope with an aching scar marking the collective memory. 

Times of Pandemic in the form of a Tale

by Sara Mugnaini

Three friends are having dinner on a cold evening in mid-January 2020. The Coronavirus has already appeared on the horizon. In faraway China borders are closed and people are forced to stay home. What will happen in Italy? And what about Europe? The three friends discuss the pros and cons of a similar yet gloomy probability. They might be enjoying their last evening at the disco…Then the worst ever has come true. Each of them reacted in his/her way, as imagined during their conversation. Nothing seems to be the same as before. Then they meet again and life starts over again (as before?).

There is the Pandemic of Global Illegality too

by Andrea Bigalli

While society is struggling with the consequences of the pandemic and the economic crisis, which will fuel social unrests, worsens, mafia are seeking to make the most of this situation. Criminal organisations are driven by their usual goal, which is achieving the maximum profit at the expense of the common wealth. They are the symptom of an anthropological “disease” (the loss of a certain feeling of shared humanness), which must be hindered by giving value to community life, by enhancing the network of solidarity and by supporting a good kind of politics capable of eradicating “global” illegality. This last challenge (together with the environmental one) is the most demanding of our time, as it morally pollutes our common home, the world. 

The (possible) Crash of Globalisation 

By Andrea Giuntini

The long financial crisis, which began with the Lehman Brother’s bankruptcy is now intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has affected the whole planet and it has changed the world’s economic and geopolitical balances. Economic sciences, governmental and technocratic bureaucracies have been showing their limits and their unpreparedness for such a challenge. This situation has highlighted the difficulties of the Western (especially European) Economy in coping with the growing economic and social inequalities, which could potentially cause scepticisms towards democracy.  

What if a Post-Human Era were Drawing Near

By Marco Salucci

Could we recognise as our heirs the beings imagined (and which can already be perceived) by “post-humanism”? The post-biological future predicted by scientific, technological and medical progress shows us a being halfway between a man and a machine. This being is a cyborg devoid of the matters, which have always afflicted human beings and, which characterise them like pain or the awareness of their contingency.  Once freed from these constraints, would life still have any meaning? 

What Wim Wenders’ Angel is teaching us 

By Massimo Squillacciotti

Going beyond the limit, beyond the “visible”, breaking the material weight of reality seems to be in our present day a real endeavour for humanity. Every single individual has become a centre of gravity phagocytising the entire outer world as in a sort of multimedia nightmare. We need to overcome the limits imposed by political classifiers and get back to Art, which guides us both in learning to speak again and in thinking by means of symbols and metaphors (as the angel of Wim Wenders’ trilogy does). Art encourages us to take on the sense of reality, so that we can hand it over our imagination and representation. 

Still Dreaming and Hoping in spite of Unpredictable Events

by Vito Teti

Travelling while staying at home, looking at the familiar places of one’s own territory. It is a mountainous territory between two seas. It is beloved, contemplated and described. Its telluric geography has seen depopulating villages. It is an open landscape that tells stories of calamities and catastrophes with a vivid experience of pain (which went lost in our abundant contemporary world). How could we narrate about these places after another calamity, which has struck the whole planet and changed (forever?) our perspective? We have to go on dreaming and hoping. 

When Poetry comes out from the Balconies 

by Roberto Mosi

The period of lockdown was like a seclusion. Yet it was not a silent one. While streets were dominated by silence, words and sounds were bouncing between the balconies in the form of music and poetry. Meetings (the face-to-face ones were forbidden) have been substituted by videoconferences, which allowed many associations to actively expand their audience. That is the case of “Testimonianze”, which has been capable of keeping the debate alive about the topics of the magazine. A particularly active role was played by poetry magazines, which have been providing comfort, as the Florentine “Balconari” (people staying at their balconies) shows.

From the Risk of Certainty to the Opportunity of Uncertainty: New Anthropological Perspectives

By Mauro Ceruti and Francesco Bellusci

Millions of human beings found themselves simultaneously united by a common destiny involving a threatening virus. They became suddenly conscious of their own fragility. Local and global showed their interdependence and for the entire humanity globalisation has taken on the meaning of a collective destiny. The uncertainty of the future highlights the need to come to terms with our complex world and, as Ernesto Balducci said, in order to face such a challenge, we must pursue the planetary unity in diversity.

East-Western Dialogue and Europe’s Prospects 

by Vannino Chiti

We cannot take for granted that the great crisis caused by the Coronavirus might lead to the end of globalisation. The question is rather, how it will reshape international relationships and, how much it will affect the socio-economic issues, the emergency brought to light. We will have to pay particularly attention to the place and role of Europe. We have to become more aware of the complex test humanity will be undergoing. We will need unity and joint actions in order to build ecological and peaceful world, the aim o which will be rediscovering our fraternal connections. 

What if we needed Europe more than Ever? 

By Simone Secci

The European Union, which we so often criticize, is a recent economic and political project. Its history and culture belong however to a common heritage. It is the ultimate result of peace-seeking dreams that followed the catastrophic wars of the 20th century. It made possible a long and unprecedented period of peace, despite the present difficulties and it is drawing the path towards a more unified continent emphasising mainly the role played by the youngsters, who are the protagonists of an effective European citizenship. 

Journalism in the Future 

By Piero Meucci

Information and journalism are going through a harsh period of transition: there is a high level of attention towards news and talk shows both on the TV and on the Internet. People use a consistent amount of their time by keeping themselves updated. The lockdown measures force people spending their time at home and this is why they sit longer and more often than before in front of the computer. Meanwhile traditional newspapers have suffered a clear turndown in sales. These data question us about the state of the information in a time, in which there is a growing invasiveness and, in which AI companies seem to act with in a “cannibalising” way. This last one would undermine the value of free information and democracy itself.  

Lost in the Web 

By Daniele Pasquini

Does “buzzing” online make us smarter, more prepared or more aware of what is going on around us, as certain thesis about the benefits of the Internet claim? The lockdown experience, which kept us glued to the computer screen for entire days, show that perhaps confusion has been increasing. We are all permanently connected, but we are essentially alone. We are the preys to the mechanism that dominates our impetus, that guides our interests and that politically influences our ideas without us even realising it. 

China and its Surroundings: What the Pandemic revealed 

By Gianni Criveller

Coronavirus has no homeland and no ideologies behind it. But it is associated with China because it was there that the first symptoms of the epidemic (which in a few months would become “global”) showed up. China faced the emergency with great political and organisational efforts, managing to limit the epidemic. However China limited political, social and religious liberties through nationalist propaganda on the domestic front and through an image created for the outer world based on a certain model efficiency as well, with the aim of leading the world. 

Thoughts on the Confinement between North and South 

by Leila El Houssi

The forced confinement of the early 2020s led several writers to meditate on the consequences the confinement itself had on their writing. What comes out from some of their considerations is astonishing. These writers, who live on the Mediterranean shores tell us in truth that writing does not necessarily need solitude, as it is nourished by sociability, full immersion into reality and shared experiences. 

“El Futuro está en el Monte”: Local Solutions for Global Problems 

by Fabiana Menna

The Gran Chaco is a large South-American woodland between Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay, which is highly rich in natural resources. Nonetheless indigenous people live in extreme poverty. The movement “El Futuro está en el Monte” involves all local representatives, has been creating for years an interesting development model, which would like to be sustainable both for the environment and its inhabitants. It enhances traditional knowledge by enriching it with the manifold contributions of advanced technology. It is a source of income, it fights poverty and it praises local populations.

Netanyahu and the Bat: Describing Israel in Times of Coronavirus 

by Dario Miccoli

An unconscious bat in China might have contributed to the (momentary) stabilisation of the current Israeli politics. The Corona emergency allowed the controversial PM Netanyahu to go on guiding the country for a few further months. The context is as follows: Israeli citizens have been experiencing for many years an (exceptionally) normal situation, which is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Could the pandemic be an occasion for a change of pace, as the writer Grossman suggests? Literature offers useful insights, in order to understand what is going on. 

Like the Clouds’ Shape 

By Alberto Salza

An unprecedented (for all of us, who are still not aware) combination of past and future guides the nomadic African shepherds, who predict, where the rain will fall and, where it will be appropriate to move their flocks by observing the shapes of the clouds. They are helped as well by ultra-modern instruments connected to satellites. They mainly focus on the concepts of change, autonomy, independence, subsistence and operational flexibility, so that they can promptly respond to climatic changes in the ecosystem. There are no fixed identities but only changing ones: It is all about people, who share with and for others. Being individuals implies being ready to operate in a network of relationships and not as a monolithic identity. It is an example that perhaps tells us something about the way we will have to plan our future. 

Cuba: Adding the Pandemic to the Bloqueo 

By Elena Zapponi

In Havana to the bloqueo reinforced by Trump’s policy has been added the pandemic that arrived with the touristic flow, which is a great resource for Cuba. The stop of tourism has contributed to the worsening of the already difficult economic situation. This is why everything escasea (is insufficient) and on a daily basis hay que resolver, hay que seguir luchando (you have to keep fighting in spite of the difficulties). In this context the spirit of resilience, which is part of the national culture, has become the most pressing imperative of the Caribbean island.

Taking away Breath and Giving Breath: The Meaning of Black Lives Matter 

by Letizia Oddo

History is “smart” and sometimes the unexpected pops up, as in the case of the pandemic or with a totally different meaning, as in the case of the anti-racist demonstrations in memory of both George Floyd and all the victims of violence. In the abuse of power of the policemen towards Afro-American, which is originated from the hostility towards an invisible subject and, which is potentially subversive (therefore it must be refused), there is a whole unconscious dynamic generated by terror and paranoia towards one’s own vulnerability. This mechanism expresses itself hence in the exercise of the power. Kneeling is the symbolic gesture of the demonstrators, who by denouncing the homicidal arrogance, becomes an invocation and a prayer with a certain hope of unity.

The Art of Restriction and a “New Beginning” 

by Gaspare Polizzi

There is a global ecological issue made clear by the planetary pandemic, which might be the result of a misunderstanding regarding the environmental balance and of the fact that the human population has become a factor of imbalance. How can we tackle this emergency already known before? It is necessary to implement a good economic, scientific and technological globalisation and to put into practice the art of temperance, which is the “ability to recognise and discern limits” wit the aim of building a new “natural contract”.

Data’s Neutrality: A Myth that Dies Hard 

By Cristina Martelli 

The data we work on (and thank to which we make up our minds in such a controversial present time) are neither neutral, nor absolute and indisputable. They must be analysed within a framework, a context, since they generate narrations and are in turn the result of narrations that determine their purpose and use. Being put in a position to critically observe complex situations, without passively undergoing the flow of communication, implies the adoption of a comprehensible shared language, which is necessary to encode worldviews and ideologies that lie behind apparent aseptic sources. This is the premise for our defending and our taking care of the modern right of being consciously informed. Such a premise does enrich culture.

Is it High Time for Anthropology to Rethink Itself?

by Ricardo Héctor Rabitti

Is it useful for anthropology to strive, in order to become a science or would it be desirable for it to be a humanistic discipline, since the idea of “human” includes contradictory and mysterious aspects, that are inaccessible to the impersonal universality of scientific laws? It is not a question of discovering the “human”, which is accompanied by myths and metaphors as literature teaches us, but rather a revealing journey for someone, who is looking for multiple identifications and for whom the lack of “belonging to himself” can be a creative occasion to “live in himself again the life of everything”. 

Our Model? The Policentric City 

Consiglio dell’Ordine degli Architetti PPC di Firenze

Increasing the sense of community value could be a positive consequence of the emergency caused by the pandemic. The public administration has now the chance to use a consistent amount of money allocated by Europe to design a new form of territorial organisation and thus to rethink its urban, architectural and economic organisation on the basis of the polycentric city, which is a city that can overcome the paralysing conflict between territories, which can embrace contemporary expressions and work on the enhancement of the suburbs and which can design public spaces from a new perspective. 

Towards a New Urban “Civilisation”? 

Pietro Bucciarelli

The schocking situation provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic gave birth to several considerations on the living culture. The proposal to go back to abandoned villages does not seem easy, functional or feasible. Many of the ideas put forward by architects and town planners, however, attempt to provide an answer to a basic need: how can cities be redesigned according to the new forms of communal living (let’s think about distance learning, smart-work, social distancing and the downsize of tourism)? There are interesting considerations and subsidies that can help fulfil some needs and that can encourage a new home- and town- “civilisation”, as historically reported by the after-plague period in the 14th century. 

City and Countryside: A New Relationship? 

by Giacomo Trentanovi

Plenty of habits have been challenged by the Coronavirus. The epidemic has changed the way people relate to each other and to society. What changes then (which were already urgent before the pandemic) will we need to create a new communal living? What about the relationship between town and country? The answers should come from a policy supported by researches and innovations aiming at creating a commonwealth. 

Is a Metamorphosis Possible? 

by Giorgio Valentino Federici

This article is a meditation on the complex ongoing situation based on three disciplinary approaches; the sociological one by Ulrick Beck, the historical one by Aldo Schiavone (we will take a look at the pre-pandemic works) and the political one deduced from an instant book by Vittorio Emanuele Parsi. The result is as follows: there are three key words (metamorphosis, progress and rebirth), which might show us a possible path towards the search for the “good in the evil” that could be useful to the mankind. Only common and global searches can point out the way out of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

When the Pasdaran of Strictness become the Bearers of the National Debt 

By Simone Siliani

The Covid-19 emergency pushed the European council to loosen a certain rigorous grip, in order to avoid a devastating socio-economic crisis. The Recovery Fund is an unprecedented instrument that implies an era-making change in the EU’s economic policies. Nonetheless the consequences of such a help (that implies inevitable risks) for the most suffering economic markets must be carefully weighed up. A control over public and private investments (which will take into account the economic and environmental sustainability) might be for instance very near indeed. 

The School System between Old Problems and New Challenges

By Giulio Mannucci

This article regards an historical excursus on the educational work. It shows its lights and shadows by recalling pedagogues’ thoughts, who have been a theoretical and practical reference point for generations of teachers. It also takes a look at the present day both at the problems afflicting the Italian school system and at the many innovative experiments we can currently find. The article also gives a few suggestions for a school able to fully perform its educational function and thus regaining its prominent place on the political agenda, as an important social factor. 

School, the Citizens of Tomorrow and the Crisis as a Test 

By Luca Daffara

The Italian Constitution established that school was a fundamental point for the education of autonomous citizens, who are aware of their choices and become the protagonists of such choices. Over the years, schools have been experimenting with teaching methods suited for those goals, which are often very little known an, which focus on the student as an individual in an “open” environment ready to confront himself with the others and to cooperate with them. How can distance learning be regarded in this context after its being forcibly adopted due to the pandemic? It is for sure a useful tool, when necessary but it certainly cannot replace enriching interpersonal relationships. 

Children first!

By Pierangelo Pedani

The pandemic has progressively highlighted phenomena of unease that the education system and families have been going through for a while now. It is an identity crisis involving on one side responsibility and on the other the authorities. This is also due to political negligence, which translates into a scarce economic governmental support towards those two fundamental institutions. It is now causing issues and deficits on an individual and social level, which need to be fixed as soon as possible. 

It is High Time We Look for New Peace Leaders  

Edited by Laura Coser

Training peace leaders capable of facing increasingly complex global challenges is the social reason behind the work Rondine cittadella della pace, which has several goals among there is also the “promotion of creative transformation of conflicts through the youngsters’ experience, who discover in their enemy a fellow being” thanks to an internationally recognised method. The campaign “Leaders for Peace” was launched in December 2018 at the UN headquarters on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the UDHR.

The Infection: A Break from Sociality 

Doctoral and near- graduation students of the Department of Civilisation and Knowledge Form of the University of Pisa (directed and coordinated by Prof. Fabio Dei).

As Professor Fabio Dei, who directed the work, explains in this brief introduction, the work of a group of Doctoral and near- graduation students of the Department of Civilisation and Knowledge Form of the University of Pisa, which was carried out during the lockdown. It focuses on the first months of 2020, in order to analyse the pandemic’s implications on an individual and social level and, in order to record the responses given by institutions, intellectuals and ordinary people.