Valentina is the author of over eight Books and Edited Collections, and many articles.

Valentina’s writing focuses on a wide range of topics including the political agency of black athletes, the racial and ethnic dimensions of Pope Francis’s papacy, the impact of migration on European and Mexican Catholicism, and the intertwining of theology and politics in the Americas, particularly in relation to gender, race and environmental justice. Her extensive body of work includes books, edited collections, and numerous articles.


    Migrant Hearts and the Atlantic Return: transnationalism and the Roman Catholic Church

    The book explores the significance of migration within the contemporary Roman Catholic Church, highlighting the impact of Catholic Latin American migrants in Rome and their challenge to a Euro-centric Catholic identity. It examines the experiences of documented and undocumented migrants and their religious practices, revealing the diverse ways in which Catholicism influences gender, labor, and sexuality in Europe.

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    The Anthropology of Catholicism

    Aimed at a wide audience of readers, The Anthropology of Catholicism is the first companion guide to this burgeoning field within the anthropology of Christianity. Bringing to light Catholicism’s long but comparatively ignored presence within the discipline of anthropology, the book introduces readers to key studies in the field, as well as to current analyses on the present and possible futures of Catholicism globally. This reader provides both ethnographic material and theoretical reflections on Catholicism around the world, demonstrating how a revised anthropology of Catholicism can generate new insights and analytical frameworks that will impact anthropology as well as other disciplines.

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Selected Articles, Chapters and Essays

Valentina has written numerous articles, chapters and essays.


Young Kings: Marcus Rashford and Theopolitical Charisma

In the aftermath of the UK loss in the 2020 Euro Football Cup, I analyze a theopolitical force of contemporary black football players, as a sovereignty from below epitomized by the figure of Marcus Rashford. Given his meteoric rise in British culture and his prominent social activism against child hunger, Rashford, among the other targets of racial abuse, is a particularly apt exemplar. By integrating anthropological ideas on theopolitics, totemism, charisma, and the sacrality of substance, this paper asks how the iconography, life histories, and social media interventions of young, kingly, Black (mainly Christian) athletes, effect a theopolitical force as an elastic movement of self-referentiality and sovereignty from below that is agonistic rather than antagonistic to the state. Specifically, it explores how these black footballers enliven an exemplar of theopolitical sovereignty that does not decide on letting live or making it die, but on doing a work of undoing injustice.

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Anthropology and Traces

This article explores the trace as a methodological tool and theoretical pathway in anthropology and beyond. Traces signal the limits of representation; they are the materials of knots of histories at the margins, as well as auratic presences. Through a critical reading of key ethnographic works, including an analysis of a Casa del Popolo in Rome which has been turned into a squat by Peruvian migrants, this article argues that the study of traces has an important genealogy in anthropology. This study invites us to explore the mattering of things (as forms becoming of importance), new ways of conjuring and operationalizing ethnographic ‘details’ and to broaden our debate of an anthropology beyond the subject, in the light of the mattering of histories

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Blog on Indigenous Genocide, Pope Francis, Reconciliation and the State [with Kristin Norget]

At the end of July, a remarkable event unfolded in three distinct but significant sites in Canada. Pope Francis, the Argentinian current supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, travelled to Maskwacis, Ste. Anne de Beaupré and Iqaluit on his “penitential pilgrimage” in Turtle Island (the Indigenous name for North America), an historic visit intended to allow for “forgiveness” for the heinous acts at Catholic Residential Schools which for over almost a century (1885-1996) separated thousands of Indigenous children from their families and communities and subjected them to awful physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

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Catholic and Indigenous

Theologian Jonathan Hamilton-Diabo, anthropologists Dr. Valentina Napolitano and Dr. Kristin Norget discuss reconciliation, Indigenous Peoples, and the Catholic Church

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