L’antropologia di Antonia Bertocchi

Pubblicato su Interactions Online, sito di Hugues De Varine, il giorno 1 aprile 2008.

A l’occasion de la préparation du 16° congrès de l’Union internationale d’anthropologie et ethnologie (UIAES), qui se tiendra en juillet 2008 à Kunming (Yunnan, Chine), la Professeure Antonia Bertocchi, de l’Université de Florence (Italie) (International Institute for the Study of Man) a entrepris de rassembler un panel de personnalités qui débattront du rapprochement théorique et pratique entre une nouvelle approche de l’anthropologie et les approches de l’écomuséologie.

Nous avons décidé de lui donner une place sur notre site, pour présenter ses idées et celles qui naîtront de l’échange entre les membres du Panel. Nous avons donc créé une nouvelle rubrique qui sera ouverte à Pr. Bertocchi et à ses collègues, ainsi qu’aux visiteurs de notre site, pour traiter ce sujet.

As part of the preparation on the 16th Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (UIAES) which will be held in July 2008 in Kunming (Yunnan, China), Prof. Antonia Bertocchi, of Florence University (International Institute for the Study of Man), is gathering a panel of experts who will discuss the relationship, in theory and practice, between a new approach of Anthropology and Ecomuseology.

We have decided to offer Prof Bertocchi a special space on our site, in order to enable her to share her ideas with our members and visitors. We have therefore created a new section called “Anthropology and Ecomuseology” which will be opened to her, to her colleagues, members of the Panel created for the Kunming Congress, and to our visitors, for contributions to this theme.

The Eco-source concept, for an epistemological and practical renewal of Ecomuseology and Anthropology

Antonia Bertocchi has proposed the paper on “The “Eco-source” concept, for an epistemological renewal of Eco-Museum Anthropology“, to the   XV° ICAES1 2K3 under the central theme “Humankind nature interaction – Past, present and future”2 University of Florence (Italy), July 5-12, 2003. She has also presented as a follow-up the paper ”Il concetto di Ecofonte, come contributo ala rifunzionalizzazione della tradizione popolare nel contesto attuale e alla innovazione delle politiche comunicative eco-museali”, to the X° AISEA3 Congress “Antropologia e territorio” (July 1-3 2004 Università La Sapienza –Roma). It was published in Italian in: “Etnoantropologia” Rivista on-line AISEA, n°2-2007.

In these texts, Prof. Bertocchi demonstrates that this concept of Eco-source is an operative instrument to describe the cybernetic treatment to which is submitted the ecological environment input, from the cultural systems of Ethnological and Traditional societies. They have elaborated “cognitive maps ecologically valid”, so defined by Communicational Anthropology, because they are obliged from natural selection to filter as much as possible the perception of the natural environment, so as to mediate the ambivalent and competing relationships between man, society and nature. In this way, the cooperation masters the hubris, so that the humankind is able to take part in the co-evolution process.

Therefore the spread of hubris isn’t casual, because it expands in a measure directly proportional to the persecution inflicted by deculturation processes to Magic-religious Epistemology, which has codified those maps in a recursive and complete myth-rite system. The loss of those codes proves a grave loss for the whole of Humankind. 

We have got to a point where, in technological and industrial societies, political and institutional decisions are taken by some oligarchic groups which take action on the basis of “cognitive maps ecologically invalid”, which Gregory Bateson has denounced as “Pathologies of Epistemology”.

Following the steps already ventured by the master of the “Ecology of mind” toward the Epistemology of the Sacred, the expert has explored the profound structure of  Magic-religious thought, paying an exact attention to that particular “Symbolic Containers”, which consist of fairly or divine figures, and animal or fantasy characters, which carry the steps of communicative exchange between a society and the information sources who come to it, from its ecological niche, considered significant for survival.

As a consequence, the exclusive recourse to Demo-Ethno-Anthropological subjects gives inadequate results for the study of Ethno-sources (The Ethno-finds of Material Culture, and the Oral-finds), while the Eco-source concept  can  be  more adequate, being in itself complex, to face the complex problems  posed by social, ecological and cultural situations.

Therefore  Eco-sources may by considered  in a wide  meaning  as  information  risings, coming from an environment coded  into Symbolic Containers  by magic-religious myth-rite systems.

To be able to decode the metaphorical process through the Symbolic Containers connected to the Ethno-Sources, we ought to go to research, by aid of natural sciences, of the ecological imprints that lie stratified in them, in space and time. In fact the metaphorical process is species-specific.

Therefore the Eco-source concept brings about an epistemological renewal to the usual approaches of Museum Anthropology based on the treasuring of material culture objects, and establishes the premises for the transformation of every Demo-Ethno-Anthropological Museum into an integrated Ecomuseum of Environment inside which an innovative laboratory of the Anthropological or Environmental culture could find in the Eco-Source study some team-work realised by Physical and Cultural Anthropologists.

In 1972 an International Seminar organized by ICOM, defined more precisely the term Ecomuseum, linking it to the territory and to the population or community (it is called the Rivière definition).  In the same year a round-table, organized jointly by Unesco and Icom in Santiago de Chile for leading Latin-American museums, defined the concept of “integral museum”, outlining the responsibility of the museum to serve all members of the community, including the most marginalized, particularly in urban situations. The precise setting into perspective of the heritage of self-knowledge accumulated by the General Anthropology during more than two centuries of positive researches allows us, at present, to work towards a correct appropriation of the past, thus giving a future to the interaction between Humankind and Nature.

In this way we may hope to regenerate Anthropology by Ecomuseology and vice-versa. 


1 – International Congress of Anthropological and ethnological Sciences.
2 – “Il concetto di Ecofonte, per un rinnovamento epistemologico dell’Antropologia Eco-Museale“, in Studi Etno-Antropologici e sociologici, Ed. Atena, Napoli 2006).
3 – Associazione italiana per le scienze Etnoantropologiche.


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