Volume 2, Issue 3 (September 2024) – 6 articles


27 May 2024

The Strange Question of Species: Biocratic Implications in Interwar Paleoanthropology

Species was one of the most controversial concepts in biological science. Not even the “New Systematics” of the 1930s and 1940s succeeded in bringing complete clarity to the issue. During the first half of the twentieth century the conceptualization of species was challenged by paleontology, a then-emerging discipline, but an ancient essentialist conception resisted, whereby each species is characterized by its own immutable essence (eidos). This simplification was transferred to physical anthropology in the study of human populations, with further cultural and political outcomes. For example: the meaning of species developed a series of biopolitical and legal implications regarding the construction of a society preserved from foreign dangerous bodies. From this perspective, the racial policy of the Third Reich established that the German national community was to be based on belonging to a same species (Art), from which Jewish population was excluded, considering it an alien species (Artfremd) and therefore incompatible. The concept of species, defined from an essentialist perspective, was in fact considered more differentiating and selective than that of “race”. Consequently, foreignness to the human species became a more radical distinguishing factor than racial classification. The article, with a focus on German academia, aims to reconstruct the debate in paleoanthropology during interwar period.


04 June 2024

Initial Stages of Development of an Automated Measurement Technique on Incisors

Teeth are an important object of studies in many scientific disciplines and, among various study techniques, measurements have one of the most promising prospects for further improvements supported by progress in computer sciences, imaging and image processing. Our recent work on automated odontometric algorithms for premolars and molars has gradually come to develop similar methods for another group of teeth—incisors. Using 3D reconstructions of teeth obtained through micro-focus tomographic scanning, we propose landmarks, which correspond to main morphological features of incisors and enable their formal description. In this article we present an orientation and measurement technique, based on an interpretation of incisor morphology, as a system which is able to perform in a fully automated mode. Since the primary objective of the current paper is to introduce methodological improvements, data on measurements and their results are shown at the most basic level.


05 July 2024

Does Philosophy Kill Humor?

The title of this paper poses a paradoxical question, relating philosophy and humor, and tries to be humorous itself with the use of the verb “kill”. Against a more common, sometimes even academical, view of philosophy as a tremendously serious, deep, and complex corpus of knowledgeall theory and no praxisthe article challenges this view and will try to explain why humor, when associated with philosophy, can accelerate the understanding of a concept, and reveal unexpected spaces for reflection while donating moments of lightness and entertainment. In this perspective, humor reveals itself as a fundamental anthropological experience strongly connected to human freedom. I am aware that there are many different types of humorirony, joke, slapstick, double-entendre, pun, deadpan-dry humor, etc., and also that the definition of “sense of humor” may be highly subjective, often related to the cultural profile of the person, and their geographical and historical contexts: what I consider funny, can be neutral or even offensive for another person. Nevertheless, among hundreds of interpretations, I will consider those which are more consistent with the scope of this paper. Moreover, if we think about the contemporary movement called philosophical counseling as a praxis that aims to help people in trouble and despair to see human problems from a wider and more rational Weltanschauung (view of the world), humor can become a useful tool to re-discover the frolicsome child inside ourselves: while playing with contrasts, metaphors, and metonymies, it induces a sudden, positive change of perspective. A process that is valid for both the counselor and the counselee, the self and the other: humor can provoke in the counselor a new and fresh way to understand the counselee’s difficulty; for the client, it can be a moment of tension release, or the start of a different way to address and approach life’s problems, or, even more, the beginning of a creative, transformative path.

Book Review

09 July 2024


10 July 2024

Return Their Names to Forgotten Bones: Memory Process about Spanish Civil War in Ponferrada (León)

For more than 80 years, Spain has had a human rights problem. Since the 18th of July 1936, when military personnel and fascists staged a coup d’état against the democratic government of the Second Republic, thousands of victims remain missing. We will examine how the victims have been treated by the State and how civil society has led the process of recovering democratic memory. We will focus on its impact in the Bierzo region, in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, and its importance in this process. We will also look at how scientific efforts continue to search for missing persons. History, archaeology, physical anthropology, and genetics join forces to repair the victims of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship.


19 July 2024

Disentangling Human Nature: Environment, Evolution and Our Existential Predicament

Throughout our entire evolutionary history, the physical environment has played a significant role in shaping humans’ subsistence adaptations. As early humans began to colonise novel biomes and construct ecological niches, their behavioural flexibility appeared as an unquestionable fact. During the Late Pleistocene-Holocene transition, the shift from foraging to farming radically altered ecosystem services, resulting in increased exposure to zoonotic pathogens and the emergence of structural inequalities that pervade our current human condition in the Anthropocene epoch. The article seeks to use an anthropological biosocial analysis to explore the diverse evolutionary paths humans have taken, which in turn shape their relationships with the natural world. Given the enigmatic nature of human behavior, it is essential to examine it holistically to understand how different subsistence patterns (e.g., intensive agriculture, foraging, and horticulture) have influenced resilience and adaptation to environmental challenges.