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Lucia Piccioni

École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (France)

Artifacts of colonial heritage: face cast collections in Italian anthropological museums


Lucia Piccioni holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris and the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. Her work on the relationships between painting and politics during Italian Fascism received the EHESS Best Dissertation Award for 2015.

In addition to her experience at Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris, she has lectured in Art History at the Université Panthéon-Sorbonne. She has also been awarded fellowships and postdoctoral positions at international institutions including the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte (2014-2015), the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York (2016), the French Academy in Rome–Villa Medici (2016-2017), and the Musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac (2017-2018), where she started research in values and materialities of the anthropological facial casts made in Italy during fascism.

Her current research aims to reconstruct the history of the facial cast collection from the Museum of Anthropology of Florence. Drawing from social science, museum studies and the arts, this study will shed light on the relation between the invention of African racial identity and Italy’s colonial past, thus challenging the contemporary resurgence of racism and xenophobia in a Europe affected by a migration crisis and the rise of populism.

Her first monograph, Art et fascisme. Peindre l’italianité (1922-1943), is forthcoming with Presses du réel. In 2021 she will join the European University Institute (EUI) as a Marie-Skłowska-Curie Fellow with the project Aesthetic and Anthropological Representations as Evidence of Racism: from Italian Unification (1861) to the Fall of Fascism (1943).

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