Valentina Napolitano

Valentina Napolitano is an associate professor in the anthropology department at the University of Toronto. She has published monographs, special issues, and articles on affects, gender and migration, global Catholicism, anthropology of traces and borderlands, Michel de Certeau, and urbanities in transformation in Mexico and Italy. She is currently interested in ethnographic and critical explorations of the intersection between political economy and political theology, on Catholic living infrastructures, and on Francis as a Criollo Pope.

Posts by Valentina Napolitano:

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Catholic Humanitas: Notes on Critical Catholic Studies


Contemporary engagement with embodied practices of Latin American transnational migrancy, as well as the long durée of the return of Catholic religious materialities, ideas, and fantasies from the Americas to Rome, shows the reignition of an old conflict within the Catholic Church and a lasting paradox within a Catholic Humanitas. This is the paradox growing from the Catholic fantasy of “full” conversion of the Other/Indian, with her imagined docile, childlike, as well as barbaric qualities—a fantasy that positions the Other/Indian as at once within and without a Catholic Humanitas. This constitutive dimension of Catholic Humanitas infuses the tension between Sameness and Otherness that still permeates Western cosmologies and, for better and worse, political practices toward migration and hospitality in Europe . . . .

Under a present condition—in which a part of the clergy in Rome foregrounds personhood based on a Roman civic heritage, rather than multiple ways of being Catholic—attacks to Catholic Humanitas are seen as an attack on everyday civitas (conceived as a Sameness in the singular). If Catholicism has been a self-evident, “cultural” root of secular Europe, it has just as clearly shaped a potent political aesthetic of exclusion.

Read the rest of Catholic Humanitas: Notes on Critical Catholic Studies.