Human Diversity in Context


Ferrini Cinzia

Editorial Foreword


Pross Wolfgang Dietrich

Assimilating Reported Natural Histories of Human Diversity: Theories of the Nature of Mankind

Marino Mario

Natural History, Racial Classification and Anthropology in J.F. Blumenbach’s Work and Reception

Chiandetti Cinzia

How the Evolutive Continuity of Cognition Challenges ‘Us/Them’ Dichotomies


Wolters Gereon Wilhelm

Constructing the Religious ‘Other’

Baffioni Carmela

The “Language of God” in Muslim and Jewish Traditions: A Case Study

Baldazzi Cristiana

Mirror Images in al-Andalus: The Quest for Self-Identity in Two Arabic Travelogues

III.1 – The Individual and Communal Perspectives: A Philosophical Approach

Ferrini Cinzia

Freedom through Otherness: Hegel’s Lesson on Human Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity

Stovall Preston

Education is the Art of Making Humanity Ethical

III.2 – Ethnic Resilience, National Identities and Diaspora

Katsiardi-Hering Olga

Diaspora and Self-Representation: The Case of Greek People’s Identity, Fifteenth-Nineteenth Centuries

Toninato Paola

When National Assimilation Policies Encounter Ethnic Resilience: The Case of Western European Roma


Gefter Wondrich Roberta

The Exhausted Intertext as Cultural Memory: Erased and Displaced Identities in Caryl Phillips’ The Nature of Blood and The Lost Child

Onega Jaen Susana

The Role of Symbolisation in the Shaping of Reality and Identity: Tales of Woundedness and Healing

Arias Rosario

The “Other” Voice in Survivor Narratives: A Gender-Based Approach to the Holocaust


“Human Diversity in Context” is a joint research project of the Academia Europaea and the Department of Humanities of the University of Trieste which aims to develop new, distinctive strategies to integrate the form and content of ‘knowledge’ and to awaken the sense of responsibility for social prejudices and ‘us/them’ dichotomies, by conveying a socially contextualised understanding of the complexity of the real world and its cultural and religious structures, facets, objects and of course, groups. Taken as a whole, this collection of essays shows how differences can manifest, articulate and actualise the potential of identity when these two poles, identity and difference, are not taken to extremes in abstract, pre-judicial ways, as mutually opposed and challenging, but are seen and examined in their concrete, living interplay within a variety of contexts. These studies provide a multifaceted critical examination of the ways, tools and strategies through which European societies have historically envisioned and now confront, construct and conceptualise their perception, representation and evaluation of the unity of humankind within its contextualised diversity. As a distinctive compendium of scholarship reflecting the current state and different fields of studies of identity, otherness and processes of othering, the editor and research coordinator, together with the authors, hope to have produced a valuable contribution to current debates. What integrates the Academia Europaea's mission and vision with the research strategies and educational objectives of the Department of Humanities of the University of Trieste is the capacity to inspire new thinking to address contemporary challenges.

Cinzia Ferrini is a Humboldt research fellow, member of the Academia Europaea and senior researcher in History of Philosophy at the Department of Humanities, University of Trieste. She is the editor of the international collection Eredità Kantiane (Bibliopolis, 2004) and the author of Guida al De orbitis planetarum di Hegel (Haupt, 1995); Scienze empiriche e filosofie della natura (Guerini e Ass., 1996); Dai primi hegeliani a Hegel (La Città del Sole, 2003); L'invenzione di Cartesio (EUT, 2015).


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 15
  • Publication
    The “Other” Voice in Survivor Narratives: A Gender-Based Approach to the Holocaust
    (EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2020)
    Arias, Rosario
    In this essay I undertake a gender-based approach to survivor narratives written by women, a controversial topic among historians of the Holocaust. Two oft-quoted texts in survivor narratives, Primo Levi’s If This is a Man (1947) and Elie Wiesel’s Night (1960), among others, have always attracted critical attention since they were first published. However, women’s survivor narratives have been conspicuously absent from critical study, or rather, they have not been analysed from the specificity of a gender approach. Since the 1990s, Carol Ritter, Joan Ringelheim and Sara Horowitz have been keen to produce the perspective of the ‘other’ voice by paying attention to the way women are figured in texts by men, to the way women’s personal experiences are portrayed in women’s narratives, and finally, the significance of gender in understanding the Holocaust as a whole. In this sense, the conceptualisation of “gender wounding”, defined as “a shattering of something innate and important to her sense of her own womanhood”, will be crucial in my take on women and gender in the Holocaust. For example, Charlotte Delbo’s trilogy Auschwitz and After (1995), which consists of three volumes, None of Us Will Return (1946/1965), Useless Knowledge (1946‑47/1970) and The Measure of Our Days (1960s/1971), translated into English by Rosette C. Lamont, has contributed to a more nuanced analysis of survivor narratives, in general, but also of the gender aspects narrated in her text, in particular. When her husband was killed in May in 1942, and she was transported to Auschwitz, alongside two hundred and thirty other Frenchwomen, most of them members of the Resistance, and who had been arrested not for ethnic or religious issues, but for political issues. Delbo stayed in Birkenau, (the female side of Auschwitz, and a satellite camp) until January 1944, and then she was sent to Ravensbrück, a women’s concentration camp. Interestingly, this camp has been neglected in the work of the historians. Sarah Helm, in her If This Is a Woman: Inside Ravensbrück: Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women (2015), whose title plays with Levi’s well-known title, attempts to set history right in giving Ravensbrück, as well as the stories generated in the camp, the place it deserves in the history of the Holocaust. Therefore, in my essay I deal with the ways in which the female voice, a vulnerable ‘other’ within others, is heard, and how this will help the reader re-orient women’s position in the history of the Holocaust and in Holocaust literature.
      323  157
  • Publication
    The Role of Symbolisation in the Shaping of Reality and Identity: Tales of Woundedness and Healing
    (EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2020)
    The essay begins by endorsing Merlin Donald’s description of symbolisation from “the mimetic mind,” through the birth of language and, with it, of narrative thought, to the eventual development of complex systems (ritual, myth, religion, art and literature) that would be essential for the shaping of reality and identity. The cognitive imperative to orient ourselves in the world by ordering and classifying it, is constantly curtailed by the human capacity for self-knowledge, which includes the shattering perception of our own mortality. Confronted with the open quest for the meaning of reality, human beings have developed the capacity to take distance from their ordinary experience and maintain simultaneously separate and contradictory bodies of knowledge, so that, as the psychoanalyst Sandra L. Bloom remarks, we may “know without knowing”. Transition rituals an artistic performances are common forms of achieving collective states of dissociation that attenuate the traumatic impact of reality and enhance the social cohesion of the group. But staying in a sustained state of dissociation or negative relationship with our empirical consciousness entails the risk of self-fragmentation. As Boris Cyrulnik argues, this risk is reduced through creativity and storytelling, since “as soon as we put sadness into a story, we give a meaning to our sufferings”. Drawing on this, the essay offers examples of spontaneous engagement in creative activities as a form of resilience in such life threatening conditions as those endured by inmates of Nazi camps, or by Guantánamo prisoners in the context of the “War on Terror”. It then goes on to consider the role of classical wondertales in the transgenerational transmission of awful but necessary knowledge, and ends with a brief comment on the paradigmatic use the British writer of German-Jewish origin Eva Figes (1932- 2012) makes of myth and wondertales as a way of assimilating, transmitting and working through her Holocaust trauma.
      327  144
  • Publication
    The Exhausted Intertext as Cultural Memory: Erased and Displaced Identities in Caryl Phillips’ The Nature of Blood and The Lost Child
    (EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2020)
    Caryl Phillips is the most acclaimed British living writers of Caribbean origin and his output has constantly focussed on issues of belonging, origins, displacement, dramatizing the condition of unbelonging and identitarian loss (and particularly of the African diaspora and the slave trade) with novelistic strategies that can be broadly ascribed to postmodernism and postcolonialism. His ambitious historical novel The Nature of Blood (1997) features a rewrite of Othello and two narratives of the Jewish diaspora set respectively in the fifteenth century and in 1948, and his recent The Lost Child (2015) combines three narrative threads: a sort of prequel to Wuthering Heights – a crucial intertext in Philips’ literary Bildung and a key text in late twentieth-century literary representations of British identity – a dramatization of Charlotte Bronte’s last days and an ill-fated love story between a black Caribbean and a middle-class English woman in 1950s England. This essay will investigate how Phillips’ literary agenda valorises the apparently unstable connection of the rewrite with the original as a subtle critique to the idea of the intertext itself as a source of cultural memory. Much like the two literary models – Othello and Heathcliff – are displaced, other, and ultimately self-consciously destructive characters, Phillips’ contemporary subjects – which include the traditional figures of the orphan and the outcast and exile – remain adrift in environments which either erase or displace their identitarian heritage and their possibility to belong. The intertext is thus no longer a cardinal feature in the construction of the new text, postcolonial/postmodern/neo-historical, in so far as it constitutes the object of a revisionist process, but rather a pre-text, where hints and elements of ambiguity, instability and ambivalence are retrieved, amplified and transfigured to produce a critique of the West’s own displaced history of oppression and amnesia.
      400  397
  • Publication
    When National Assimilation Policies Encounter Ethnic Resilience: The Case of Western European Roma
    (EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2020)
    Soon after the first nomadic ‘Gypsies’ appeared in Western Europe they were labelled as ‘undesirable’ and subjected to state control. The chapter discusses in its first part the main types of public policies enacted from the sixteenth century onwards in order to exclude and ultimately assimilate Romani groups within mainstream European society. These policies were based on a number of deeply engrained views and stereotypical categories that still pervade the public and legal discourse on ‘Gypsies’. Focusing on the Western European context, the chapter deconstructs in the second part misleading ‘Gypsy’ categories by contrasting them with the Roma’s own experiences, and highlighting the non-binary, non-exclusionary logic underlying their self-definitions. In the face of relentlessly hostile attitudes, the resilience demonstrated by Roma and Sinti enabled them to actively adapt to the changing socio-political circumstances without losing their ethnic identity. Two recent instances of resilient cultural strategies are analysed: the rise of a transnational written Romani literature and the emergence of the Roma/Gypsies as a political subject which challenges the traditional national-identity paradigm through the adoption of non-territorial, diasporic models.
      309  263
  • Publication
    Diaspora and Self-Representation: The Case of Greek People’s Identity, Fifteenth-Nineteenth Centuries
    (EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2020)
    Katsiardi-Hering, Olga
    In the long space-time between the late fifteenth and early nineteenth centuries Greek Orthodox people from Southeastern Europe have established communities / “colonies”/ paroikiai in various cities in central, northern Europe, at the Mediterranean and at the Black Sea. The reasons for this were political, cultural and economic. Their establishment in the host cities was a result of their interest and, of course, a consequence of the privileges granted to them by the local authorities, more or less because of their special economic interest. In these diaspora communities Greeks, Serbs, Albanians, Aromunians and Bulgarians, founded their Greek Orthodox churches, and organised their common communities. Very often and, particularly, during the eighteenth century, they conducted different forms of organisation, following their own forms of national identification. The common Orthodox dogma was not sufficient as a combining element. The Jus-nationis took the important place of the Jus religionis. The commercial and intellectual networks, built by these diaspora Greek Orthodox people, were another interesting phenomenon of this long space-time. The coexistence of Greek Orthodox with other Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Armenian, Jewish people in the diaspora led, from the mid-eighteenth century, to the more or less intense strengthening of the ‘us’ towards to the ‘others’. The formation of the nation states in Southeastern Europe (the first among them being the Greek one, in 1830) was also a result of this long and interesting process of national identification.
      325  333