Cristiana Giordano, Ph.D.

Cristiana Giordano

Position Title
Associate Professor

Anthropology, Science & Technology Studies

Young Hall 321


Cristiana Giordano is and 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 one of the 2016 Victor Turner Book Prizes. 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 perfomative endeavors, such as theater plays and installations. To this end, she has been training in the devising theater technique of Moment Work (invented by New York-based Tectonic Theater Project), which draws 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 using this devising technique: one on police violence in the U.S. (by Pierotti), and one 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.

Selected Publications

  • Giordano, C. (2016) Catastrophes, In Refugees and the Crisis of EuropeHot Spots series, Cultural Anthropology website, June 28, 2016.
  • (2016) Mayanthi, F., & Giordano, C. (Eds.)Refugees and the Crisis of Europe. Hot Spots series, Cultural Anthropology website, June 28, 2016.
  • Giordano, C. (2016) Secular redemptions: Biopolitics by example, In Medical Anthropology, special issue on Nonsecular Medical Anthropology, Vol. 35(3), 2016.
  • Giordano, C. (2015) Lying the truth: Practices of confession and recognition, In Current Anthropology, Vol. 56(12): 211-221, December 2015.
  • Giordano, C. (2014) Migrants in Translation. Caring and the Logics of Difference in Contemporary Italy. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Giordano, C. (2011) Translating Fanon in the Italian context: Rethinking the ethics of treatment in psychiatry. In Transcultural Psychiatry, Vol.48, No.3.
  • Giordano, C. (2008) Practices of translation and the making of migrant subjectivities in contemporary Italy. In American Ethnologist, Vol.35, No. 4.
  • Giordano, C. (2006) Reflections on translation in between the clinic and anthropology. In Taliani, S. and Vacchiano, F. (Eds.), Altri corpi. Antropologia ed etnopsicologia della migrazione, Edizioni Unicopoli, Milano.
  • Giordano, C. (2002) Perdersi e ritrovarsi: qualche riflessione sui percorsi della soggettività. In Oltrecorrente. Rivista di filosofia, No. 6.


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