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Cristiana Giordano


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, UC Berkeley, 2006
  • M.A., Anthropology, UC Berkeley, 2001
  • B.A., Philosophy, Universitá di Pavia (Italy), 1996


Cristiana Giordano is an associate professor of anthropology at UC Davis. She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.A. in philosophy from the University of Pavia, Italy. She works on foreign migration, mental health, the body, and cultural translation in contemporary Italy. Her research addresses the politics of migration in Europe through the lens of ethno-psychiatry and its radical critique of psychiatric, legal, and moral categories of inclusion/exclusion of foreign others; and through the lens of research on the human microbiome and migrant health in Europe. Her broader research interests also engage the relation between psychic life, therapy, clinical sites, and images. She is the author of Migrants in Translation. Caring and the Logics of Difference in Contemporary Italy (University of California Press, 2014), Winner of the Boyer Prize for Contributions to Psychoanalytic Anthropology, Society for Psychological Anthropology, 2017; the Victor Turner Book Prize for ethnographic writing, Society for Humanistic Anthropology, 2016 (second prize); and finalist for the 2015 PEN Center USA UC Press First Book Award.

Giordano’s other line of inquiry involves finding new ways of rendering ethnographic material into written texts and/or artistic forms. She explores new ways in which anthropology can contribute to and learn from performative endeavors, such as theater performance and installations. To this end, she has been training in devising theater techniques which draw from nontheatrical source material (interview transcripts, legal and medical reports, news articles, archival documents, visual material, etc.) to devise theater pieces on current events. She has been collaborating with playwright and director Greg Pierotti (one of the founders of Tectonic Theater Project) on new methodologies at the interstice of the social sciences and performance, and on two theatrical projects: one entitled B-More on police violence in the U.S. (by Pierotti), and one entitled Un-stories on movement, borders, and the current “refugee crisis” in Europe (co-written with Pierotti).


Research Focus

Medical and psychological anthropology; psychoanalysis; ethno-psychiatry; subjectivity; theories of translation; migration; human rights; citizenship; anthropology of the state and the law; Italy, Europe, and the Mediterranean; affect; performance and theater; experimental ethnographies.

Selected Publications




  • Anthropology and Theater in Conversation: Anthropology 210
  • Davis Humanities Cluster on Research, Narrative, and Performance: Explorations in between the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities
  • Cluster Description.pdf



2017 Boyer Prize for Contributions to Psychoanalytic Anthropology, Society for Psychological Anthropology

2016 Victor Turner Book Prize, Society for Humanistic Anthropology (second prize)

2015 Finalist for the 2015 PEN Center USA UC Press First Book Award