EVAA is a voluntary and non-politic association counting 50 members. These are mostly anthropologists, but we also have students and people who are interested in anthropology and in the activities organized by the association.
Apart from building a platform for exchange and networking among its members, EVAA aims to form a pool of anthropological experts to address specific topics of socio -cultural life. In order to do this we started by collecting background information about the fields of research, research methods and regional interests of our members. This data is growing steadily and will provide us with invaluable information on which to base further initiatives.
EVAA also wishes to promote anthropological research in South Tyrol. And this wish leads us to working together with the Free University of Bolzano. But we also work together with different museums like the Museum Ladin, the Bolzano city Museum, Youth Centers, Cultural Initiatives or Museums.
The events of the EVAA are public and are explicitly aimed at a broad audience interested in anthropology, in order to raise awareness on current socio-cultural and political topics of interest and promote debate and discussion. So far we have organized, together with local partners, two book presentations, Ethnographic Film events and an international Congress on Intangible Cultural Heritage.
As for our topic of interest, I have to say that Cultural and Social Anthropology in South Tyrol is, as in many other parts of Europe, a small discipline when compared to its neighboring subjects. There is neither a Faculty of Anthropology nor a department in our University. However, we are glad that the discipline is represented in various sectors of scientific and social life. Cultural and Social Anthropology classes in the M-DEA (demo-ethno-anthropological) program is offered in Brixen as a mandatory subject for future teachers and social workers.
Moreover, other faculties employ cultural and social anthropologists. Faculties such as the Design Faculty, where Cultural Anthropology is taught to Design Students.
Anthropologists also work for scientific projects within other institutions such as the European Academy in Bolzano. A bit wistfully we also look at the physical anthropologists as they have built, together with the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, a well-established and internationally-recognized Institute for Physical Anthropology, palaeopathological, genetic and medical research.
But going back to our association – The Local Cultural and social anthropologists work in many different scientific and non-scientific fields. These include, just to give a few examples, University and non-university research, teaching work not only at college-level, but also in primary and middle schools. We also have anthropologists curating exhibitions in museums, organizing cultural events and working on the broadcasting sector. Some of our members also work in the field of development cooperation, in NGO´s, as streetworkers in Bolzano, Merano and Bressanone. Apart from the unique cultural background that a south tyrolean anthropologist has almost as a birth right, there are other reasons why this region is a very interesting and challenging place from an anthropological point of view. Reasons that, in some cases, have led some of us to study this subject.
South Tyrol has had the honor of counting important anthropologists as co-inhabitants. And when I say important Anthropologists I’m thinking about the not so well known Count Alexei Bobrinskoj who was born in 1914 in Moscow. He was an Historian and Ethnographer, and he undertook in the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century 3 expeditions to the Pamir Mountains. There he collected a vast quantity of ethnographic material about rural art and the religious life in the country. This collection is still the main feature of the Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg. After the Russian revolution, Count Bobrinskoj had to leave his homeland and decided to settle down in Seis, in the Dolomites of South Tyrol. While in South Tyrol he sorted his exhibitions and wrote his teaching materials.
A biography published in 2012 by the local Russian culture association RUS, documents Bobrinskoj’s early life, his work and his last years which he spent in South Tyrol.
Another important Anthropologist who lived in Oberbozen, near the Province Capital, was Bronislaw Malinowski. Paul Khuner, economist and businessman from Vienna, supported Malinowski in 1922, when the latter returned from Australia searching for a place with a mild climate where he could settle. Malinowski’s Australian wife, Elsie Rosaline Masson, suffered from Multiple sclerosis and, in comparison with Krakow, London or Vienna, Bolzano offered mild winters and not too hot summers which was beneficial for her disease. From 1923 – to 1938 the Malinowski family lived an unusual international life, rarely living together in the same country. Although he was teaching in London at the London School of Economics from 1920, until 1938 Elsie and the 3 children lived mostly in South Tyrol where the girls were born. Malinowski visited them during the summers and between terms. Even after they bought a house in London in 1929, Elsie was often away from London’s weather, in South Tyrol in search of a cure.
Another element that has given notoriety to anthropology in our region is, without a doubt, the Book: The Hidden Frontier Ecology and Ethnicity at Alpine Valley in which John W. Cole and Eric R. Wolf in 1974 made famous the cultural aspects of two very different laws of succession in farming communities in Non Valley: the Italian-speaking Tret and the German-speaking St. Felix, only a few kilometers apart.
Matthias Jud anthropological Talks South Tyrol 2013