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Dr Paolo Heywood

Dr Paolo Heywood

Research Associate on Situating Free Speech

Research Fellow, Homerton College


Dr Heywood’s doctoral research (PhD, University of Cambridge 2015) focussed on the politics of difference amongst queer activists in Bologna, Italy. His forthcoming book (After Difference, 2018) and a number of related journal articles focus on this and associated themes, such as the place of ethics in queer activism and its relation to rules; the meaning of political identities; the relationship between queer politics and religion; and the difficulty of holding together political communities based on the virtue of 'being different’.  

This project, together with an earlier prize-winning article on the so-called 'ontological turn' ("Anthropology and what there is”, 2012) and a second piece co-written with James Laidlaw (“One more turn and you’re there”, 2013) also led to an interest in a fundamental methodological question for anthropology, namely that of what relationship ought to obtain between theory and ethnographic material. Both the monograph and a forthcoming article with invited commentary in Current Anthropology (“Making difference: queer activism and anthropological theory”, 2018) deal at length with this question.

Dr Heywood’s current post-doctoral project focuses on the Italian village of Predappio, in which Mussolini was born, and is buried, and which is a major site for contemporary neo-fascist pilgrimage. It is also the proposed location for Italy’s first ‘Museum of Fascism’. The aim of the project is to bring an ethnographic focus to the study of the contemporary European far-right by asking how debates over the meaning of fascism are lived by the inhabitants of a place in which fascism as a problem has never gone away.


Research Interests

Italy, Europe, the anthropology of ethics, gender and sexuality, identity and difference, activism, Catholicism, philosophy and anthropology.

Research Supervision

Sophia Hornbacher-Schönleber


SAN3: Anthropological Theory and Methods: The Ontological Turn

SAN5: Thought, Belief and Ethics: Ethics and Activism


Key Publications


2018.   'After difference: queer activism in Italy and anthropological theory'. Oxford: Berghahn. 

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

2018.   The ontological turn: school or style? In Schools and styles of anthropological theory, edited by Matei Candea. London: Routledge. 

2017.   The ontological turn. The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Anthropology.

2017.   Moral psychology: an anthropological perspective. In Moral psychology: a multidisciplinary guide, edited by Benjamin Voyer and Tor Tarantola. New York: Springer. 

2015.   Equivocal locations: being ‘red’ in ‘Red Bologna’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21: 1-17.

2015.   Agreeing to disagree: LGBTQ activism and the Church in Italy. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5: 59-78.

2015.   Freedom in the code: the anthropology of (double) morality. Anthropological Theory 15: 200-217.

2012.   Anthropology and what there is: reflections on ‘ontology’. The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 30: 143-151.

2009.  The two burials of Aldo Moro: sovereignty and governmentality in the anni di piombo. Cambridge Anthropology 29: 1-29.

2009.  Topographies of love: two discourses on the Russian mail-order bride industry. Cambridge Anthropology 29: 26-45.

Reviews and Comments

2017.  "Comment on Ashley Lebner’s ‘Interpreting Strathern’s unconscious critique of ontology’ ” Social Anthropology, 25

2014.  Neoliberal nation? Mobbing and morality in northern ItalyJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20: 151-153.

2013.  One more turn and you’re thereAnthropology of this Century 7. With James Laidlaw.

2009.  Conference review: the topography of happiness. Cambridge Anthropology 29: 104-107.

2009.  Internet-svakha. In Topografiya Schast’ya: Russkaya Svad’ba (ed.) Olga Sosnina. Tsaritsino Museum: Moscow.