Alumni Senior Fellow

Prof. Elena Pulcini

Alumni Fellows

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstraße 44
47059 Duisburg

Tel: +49 (0)203 379-5230
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276
E-mail: pulcini@spam


Prof. Elena Pulcini joined Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research as a Senior Fellow. She conducted her research in Research Unit 2 “Global Cultural Conflicts and Transcultural Cooperation” from January to June 2014.

Research Project at the Centre

The Passion for Giving

Starting from the topic of the gift as seen by the ‘Maussian’ school (the gift as a social operator that goes to create the social bond, see Caillé, Godbout etc.), I would like to develop my research along two fundamental lines:

In first place, with reflection on an aspect that as yet has not received sufficient attention in the contemporary debate: namely the motivations behind the gift; or rather, the passions inspiring giving. My underlying thesis is that the gift presupposes an emotional disposition that can take multiple forms. We need to ask ourselves what these are, because by understanding the passion of the gift, we can go beyond the egoism/altruism dichotomy: giving implies an opening towards the other which, however, does not imply a generic altruism, but a profound desire on the part of the subject, who can empower him/herself through the gift... Therefore, which passions are at the origin of the act of giving? If it is legitimate to trace the gift back to love, which type of love are we talking about? Agape, eros, philia?

In second place, I propose adding to this perspective the reflection on care, meant as the paradigmatic manifestation of a giving action. Although the female care theorists (from Gilligan to Held) underline its affective dimension, nevertheless they do not pay sufficient attention to the different motivations and passions that drive the subject to take care of the other. In my opinion, if we understand these motivations, we can distinguish between the various forms of care and remove care from a vision of pure altruism and welfare. What difference is there, for example, between caring for a loved one and caring for another in need? If it is legitimate to presuppose love in the first case and compassion in the second, how much does this emotional difference affect the very idea of care itself? And then: which passions lead us to take care of the distant other, that is, someone with whom we have no personal relationship and who is distant from us both in space (such as the poor and disadvantaged on the planet) and in time (future generations)?

Research Interests

  • Critical Theory of Modernity
  • Modern Individualism
  • Theory of Passion
  • Theory of the Feminine Subject
  • Theory of the Gift
  • Philosophy of Care
  • Philosophy of the Global Age, with Special Reference to the Transformations of the Self and the Social Bond, and to Link Fear-Responsibility-Care

Current Projects

  • A book on Care and Justice which aims to investigate not just the passions that inspire the ethics of care but also those that underlie the ethics of justice, which is too simplistically dealt with, not just by liberal thought, like an abstract and rational paradigm.
  • An essay on ‘generosity: virtue or passion’? For the main part, modernity considered generosity an ethical dimension rather than a passion and allocated essentially egoistical passions to the subject (homo oeconomicus). The objective is instead to rethink the affective roots of generosity, and also single them out in contemporary society.
  • An essay, for a collective volume, resulting from the Seminar of Social Philosophy which I have coordinated over the past three years with colleagues from the universities of Florence, Rome and Turin, on ‘La felicità degli italiani’ (Italians and Happiness). The intention of this essay is to reflect on the nexus between happiness and solidarity/generosity/giving, traditionally part of the Italians’ identity, but which today seem to be weakened by the economic and social crisis. 


Since 2004 University of Florence
Department of Philosophy
Full Professor of Social Philosophy
2001-2003 University of Florence
Department of Philosophy
Associate Professor of Social Philosophy
1995-2000 University of Florence
Faculty of Education Studies
Temporary Teaching Position of Moral Philosophy
1991 University Paris-III Sorbonne Nouvelle
Nouveau Doctorat
1980-1994 University of Florence
Department of Philosophy
1976-1977 École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
Department of Social Sciences
Research Stay
1974-1975 University of Florence
Department of Philosophy
Research Scholarship

Selected Publications

Pulcini, Elena (2012). The Individual without Passions, Lanham:Lexington (Rowan and Littlefield), ISBN: 0739166573

Pulcini, Elena (2012). Envie. Essai sur une passion triste <Envy. Essay about a sad passion>, Paris: Le Bord de l'eau (Italian edition: Invidia. La passione triste, Bologna: Il Mulino,  (2011) ISBN: 9788815146625)

Pulcini, Elena (2012). Care of the World. Fear and Responsibility in the Global Age, Dordrecht: Springer, (Italian edition: La cura del mondo. Paura e responsabilità in età globale, Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, (2009))

Pulcini, Elena (2012). Das soziale Individuum: Leidenschaft und Anerkennung bei Smith und Rousseau <The Social Individual: Passion and Recognition at Smith and Rousseau>, in: W. Gräb and L. Charbonnier (eds.), Individualität. Genese und Konzeption einer Leitkategorie humaner Selbstdeutung, Berlin: Berlin University Press, 209–29

Pulcini, Elena (2012). Donner le care <Care-Giving>, in «Revue du Mauss», n. 39, Paris: La Découverte, pp. 49–66

Pulcini, Elena (2012). Entre la peur et le ressentiment : passions et pathologies de l'âge global <Between Fear and Resentment: Passions and Pathologies of the Global Age>, in: Temps de crises. Ruptures et perspectives, Annales de l'Université d'été d'Andorra, Minister of Andorra, pp. 95–113.

Pulcini, Elena (2011). Reaprendiendo a temer: la percepciòn de los riesgos en la era global <Learning to Fear Again: the Perception of Risk in the Global Age>, in: D Innerarity and J. Solana (eds.), La humanidad amenazada: gobernar los riesgos globales, Madrid: Paidos, pp. 163–80, ISBN: 9788449325618

Pulcini, Elena (2010). The Responsible Subject in the Global Age, in «Science and Engineering Ethics», vol. 16, pp. 447–61, ISSN: 1353-3452

Pulcini, Elena (2009). Le don à l'age de la mondialisation <The Gift in the Age of Globalization>. In «Revue du Mauss», n.36 (Mauss vivant), Paris: La Découverte, pp. 210–18

Pulcini, Elena (2009). Riscos sociais, patologia do sujeito e responsabilidade na era da técnica <Social Risks, the Pathology of the Subject and Responsability in the Technical Age>, in: Uma sociedade pòs-humana. Possibilidades e limites das nanotecnologias. Sao Leopoldo Brasil, may 2008, pp. 23–40, ISBN: 9788574313429

Pulcini, Elena (2009). Pathologies de la reconnaissance <Pathologies of Recognition>, in: A. Caillé and C. Lazzeri (eds.), La reconnaissance aujourd'hui, Paris: Presses du CNRS, pp. 403–25, ISBN: 9782271067715

Pulcini, Elena (2008). Assujetties au don. Réflexions sur le don et le sujet féminin <Subjected to the Gift. Reflections on the Gift and the Female Subject>, in: Ph. Chanial (ed.), La société vue du don, Paris: La Découverte, pp. 229–42, ISBN: 9782707154569

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Member of the teaching staff that oversees the Doctorate School in the Department of Philosophy
  • Professor of First-level class (Laurea triennale)
  • Professor of Master-level class (Laurea magistrale)

Seminars and Conferences

  • Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris
  • Institut für die Wissenchaften vom Menschen, Wien
  • Université Paris X-Nanterre
  • Pontificia Universidade Catòlica, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
  • Humboldt Universität, Berlin
  • Universidade Unisinos, Sao Leopoldo, Brasil
  • Freie Universität, Bozen
  • Dartmouth College, Hanover, USA
  • Universidad San Sebastian, Spain
  • Université d'Andorra
  • New School for Social Research, New York


  • Since 2012: Vice-president of the Bureau du MAUSS (Mouvement Anti-Utilitariste en Sciences Sociales)
  • Since 2009: Founder and coordinator of the Seminar of Social Philosophy, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Florence, with the University of Turin and Bologna. Subject of research: “Happyness and capitalism”
  • 2009-2011: Principal Investigator of the National research project PRIN “Passions and Politics in the Global Age”, funded by the Italian Minister for University and Research
  • 2007-09: Member of the National research project PRIN "European integration process and Europe's relationship with the West in the view of political philosophy", coordinated by Prof. F. Cerutti (U. of Florence), and funded by the Italian Minister for University and Research
  • 2004-2006: Member of the research project “Travelling Concept”, European Network ATHENA (European Thematic Network Project for Women’s Studies ATHENA), coordinated by the University of Utrecht
  • Since 2006: Member of the “International network for Research on Gender and Empowerment”, directed by Prof. Marina Calloni (University of Milan Bicocca)
  • Since 2006: Member of the research project “Travelling Concept 2”, European network ATHENA
  • 2005-2007: Member of the National research project PRIN "Europe and the West: a comparison", coordinated by Prof. F. Cerutti (U. of Florence), and funded by the Italian Minister for University and Research
  • Since May 2005: Member of the JERP (Joint European Research Program), 5.3.1 “Global Environmental Issues”, coordinated by Prof. E. Altvater (Freie Universität, Berlin), in the European Network of Excellence GARNET (Global Governance, Regionalisation and Regulation: the Role of the EU), Contract n. 513330 with the European Commission, funded by the Sixth Framework Programme
  • Since 2004: Coordinator, together with F. Cerutti, D. D’Andrea, M. Toraldo di Francia, of the Seminar of Political Philosophy, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Florence
  • Since 1995: Co-founder of the Seminar of Critical Theory and Social Philosophy, Istituto Aloisianum, Gallarate (Milan), and member of the Committee Board since 2005
  • I have been a member of the Stearing Committee of Italian Society of Political Philosphy, SIFP


  • Special mention for "L'individuo senza passioni" at National Philosophy Prize Salvatore Valitutti
  • Special mention for "L'individuo senza passioni" at National Philosophy Prize Viaggio a Siracusa
  • First National Philosophy Prize for "La cura del mondo"at National Philosophy Prize Viaggio a Siracusa

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