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Department of Social Anthropology



My current research centres on the former battlefields of the Western Front, and on how war is remembered and commemorated there in the 21st century. I am particularly interested in investigating the long-term social memory of the First World War among the populations who inhabit the former Western Front areas and were temporarily displaced by the conflict; and the relationship between this and the public and private remembrance of the military victims and events of the war. Another particular concern is the role of physical remains and material culture in commemoration and in social and personal memory. My ethnographic research currently focuses on the battlefield of Verdun (France) in the context of an E.U. sponsored project entitled ‘Cultural Heritage and the Reconstruction of Identities after Conflict’ (CRIC – see below). In collaboration with Prof. Jean-Paul Amat (Université de Paris IV) and Prof. Edwige Savouret (CEGUM-EA 1105, Université de Metz) I investigate the transformation of the Verdun battlefield from a site of memory in the 20th century, to a site of ‘cultural heritage’ in the 21st century. In an earlier phase of ethnographic research I concentrated on the Argonne, a forest area to the West of Verdun where I investigated local understandings of the past and the civilian memory of war. My research on conflict landscapes is also in part archaeological through my membership of No Man’s Land, a group specialising on Great War archaeology. Our main project at the moment is the Plugstreet Project (see below), consisting of the excavation of a segment of the 1914-‘18 frontline in the Wallon region of Belgium. This has recently included the retrieval, identification and reburial of the remains of Australian soldier missing in action in 1917. In the context of this project I have also investigated ethnographically the local civilian memory of the Great War and the experiences of those involved in the excavation, DNA identification and reburial of the soldiers’ body, including archaeologists, families of the missing in action and others. Overarching themes in this last piece of research are the memorial role and figure of the war dead, and the relationship between anthropology and archaeology, both of which I am currently developing.


Key publications: 


In preparation Au Pays des Ruines: war destruction and ordinary places on the former Western Front. (monograph, under contract).


Accepted for publication, ‘Memory and the material legacy of the Great War’ in P. Purseigle and A. Seipp (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of World War I. Oxford University Press

2015 ‘The cemetery of France’: the Ossuary at Douaumont and the Victory Monument at Verdun (France). In M.-L. Sørensen and D. Viejo-Rose (eds.) War and Cultural Heritage: biographies of place. CUP

2013 published online (paper publication with Presses Universitaires, expected 2015), ‘Témoins Muets/Mute Witnesses: ethnography and archaeology encounter the objects of the Great War’, TEMUSE 14-45. Actes du Symposium international. 13,14 septembre 2012, found at:

2012 Paola Filippucci, Joost Fontein, John Harries and Cara Krmpotich, ‘Encountering the past: unearthing remnants of humans in archaeology and anthropology’. In D. Shankland (ed.) Archaeology and Anthropology: past, present and future. London: Bloomsbury

2010 ‘Archaeology and the anthropology of memory: takes on the recent past’ in Archaeology and Anthropology: understanding similarities, exploring differences, ed. D. Garrow and T. Yarrow, Oxbow Books, pp. 69-83

2010  ‘Archaeology and memory on the Western Front’ in D. Boric (ed.) Archaeology and Memory Oxbow Books, pp. 171-182
2009 ‘Heritage and methodology: a view from social anthropology’ in Heritage Studies: methods and approaches. Eds. M.-L. Stig Sørensen and J. Carman, London: Routledge, pp. 319-325  

2010  ‘In a Ruined Country: place and the memory of war destruction in Argonne (France)’ in N. Argenti and K. Schramm (eds.) Remembering Violence: Anthropological Perspectives on Intergenerational Transmission, Berghahn Books, pp. 165-189

2009 ‘Heritage and methodology: a view from social anthropology’ in Heritage Studies: methods and approaches. Eds. M.-L. Stig Sørensen and J. Carman, London: Routledge

2009 ‘Postcards from the past: landscape, place and the memory of War in Argonne (France)’ in P. Cornish and N. Saunders (eds.) Contested Objects: Material Memories of the Great War Routledge, pp. 220-236

2007/2008 (with Irene Peano) Introduction. In Boundary Crossings: a Festschrift in memory of Sue Benson, P. Filippucci and I. Peano (eds.) Cambridge Anthropology Special Issue, Vol. 27, 2, pp. 1-9.

2004 ‘Memory and marginality: remembrance of World War I in Argonne, France’ in D. Kaneff, F. Pine and H. Haukanes (eds.) Memory, Politics and Religion: the Past meets the present in Europe/ LIT-Verlag

2004 ‘A French place without a cheese: Problems with heritage and identity in northeastern FranceFocaal – European Journal of Anthropology 44: 72-86

2004 (with Perry Willson) ‘Introduction’ in ‘Gender, Sex and the Family in Italy 1945 to the present’, Special Issue, Journal of Modern Italy 9 (1): 5-9

2002 ‘Acting local: two performances in North-East Italy’ in M. Crang and S. Coleman (eds.) Tourism: Between Place and Performance Berghan Books

2001 ‘Jewellery and fine metalwork’ in R. Hodges (ed.) S.Vincenzo a Volturno: the 1980-86 Excavations Archaeological Monographs of the British School at Rome, vol. 3

Research Reports

2002 Une politique de valorisation du patrimoine paysager: le cas de l’Argonne, Ministère de l’Aménagement du Territoire et de l’Environnement (France), 150 pp.

1997 ‘The Politics of Territorial Value: the case of Bassano, Italy’, Vol. 2 of N. Winder and S. van der Leeuw (eds.) Environmental Perception and Policy Making: Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Preservation of Degradation-Sensitive Environments in Southern Europe, the Commission of the European Communities, contract no. EV5V-CT94-048, 120 pp.

1997 with M. Lemon and S. Green, ‘Towards a comparative and collaborative framework’ in Perception, Policy and Unforeseen Consequences: an Interdisciplinary Synthesis, Vol. 1 of N. Winder and S. van der Leeuw (eds.) cit.: 14-21

1997 ‘Bassano del Grappa’ in Perception, Policy and Unforeseen Consequences: an Interdisciplinary Synthesis, Vol. 1 of N. Winder and S. van der Leeuw (eds.) cit.: 23-35

Teaching and Supervisions


SAN1: The Comparative Perspective: Human Societies: Identity and Difference

SAN2: Comparative Social Analysis: Anthropology and Kinship

SAN4/7: The Anthropology of Europe: Kinship and Family Identities

M.Phil Paper 1: Production and Reproduction: The Anthropology of Kinship

Research supervision: 
Affiliated Lecturer
Fellow and College Lecturer, Murray Edwards College
Dr Paola  Filippucci

Contact Details

Email address: 
Takes PhD students