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Imperfection A Natural History - Book presentation



Imperfection A Natural History - Book presentation

The Italian Cultural Institute in New York is pleased to present: 

Imperfection A Natural History

by Telmo Pievani.

Translated by Michael Gerard Kenyon, 

foreword by Ian Tattersall.

(The MIT Press, 2022) 


The author will be in conversation with:

Fabio Finotti,

IIC-NY Director,  


Alessandro Melis,

IDC Foundation Endowed Chair and Professor

in the School of Architecture and Design

(New York Institute of Technology)


Ian Tattersall

curator emeritus in the Division of Anthropology

of the American Museum of Natural History, NY.



Imperfection: how life on our planet is a catalog of imperfections, errors, alternatives, and anomalies.

In the beginning, there was imperfection, which became the source of all things. Anomalies and asymmetries caused planets to take shape from the bubbling void and sent light into darkness. Life on earth is a catalog of accidents, alternatives, and errors that turned out to work quite well. In this book, Telmo Pievani shows that life on our planet has flourished and survived not because of its perfection but despite (and perhaps because of) its imperfection. He begins his story with the disruption-filled birth of the universe and proceeds through the random DNA copying errors that fuel evolution, the transformations of advantages into handicaps by natural selection, the anatomical and functional jumble that is the human brain, and our many bodily mismatches.


Telmo Pievani (1970) is Full Professor at the Department of Biology, University of Padua, where he covers the first Italian chair of Philosophy of Biological Sciences since 2015. After Ph.D. researches in USA, he has been Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Milan Bicocca (2001-2012). Past President (2017-2019) of the Italian Society of Evolutionary Biology, he is Fellow of several academic Institutions and scientific societies. He is member of the editorial boards of Evolution: Education and Outreach, Evolutionary Biology, Rendiconti Lincei Sc. Fis. Nat., Nature Italy, Istituto Treccani, and the Italian edition of Scientific American. He is author of 322 publications, included several books: “Introduction to Philosophy of Biology” (Laterza, 2005); “The Theory of Evolution” (Il Mulino, 2010); “Born to Believe” (Codice Edizioni, 2008, with V. Girotto and G. Vallortigara); “The Unexpected Life” (Cortina Editore, 2011); “Homo sapiens. The Great History of Human Diversity” (Codice Edizioni, 2011, with L.L. Cavalli Sforza), “Introduction to Darwin” (Laterza, 2012); “The End of the World” (Il Mulino, 2012); “Freedom of migration” (Einaudi, 2016, with V. Calzolaio); “How we will be” (Codice Edizioni, 2016, with L. De Biase); “Imperfection. A natural history” (Cortina, 2019, MIT Press, 2022); “The Earth after us” (Contrasto, 2019; with F. Lanting’s photos), “Finitude” (Cortina, 2020); “Serendipity” (Cortina, 2021); “Nature is bigger than us” (Solferino, 2022). Fellow of the Scientific Board of science festivals in Italy, since 2014 he is fellow of the International Scientific Council of MUSE in Trento. He is Director of “Pikaia”, the Italian website dedicated to evolution ( He is Director of the University of Padua web magazine, Il Bo LIVE ( With Niles Eldredge, Ian Tattersall and Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, he curated International science exhibitions. Author of books for children and theatre scientific shows, he collaborates with RAI radio and TV projects, he is a columnist for Il Corriere della Sera, and the magazines Le Scienze and Micromega. Personal website:


Ian Tattersall is currently curator emeritus in the Division of Anthropology of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He has carried out both primatological and paleontological fieldwork in countries as diverse as Madagascar, Vietnam, Surinam, Yemen, and Mauritius. Trained in archaeology and anthropology at the University of Cambridge, and in geology and vertebrate paleontology at Yale University, Ian has concentrated his research since the 1960s in three main areas: the analysis of the human fossil record and its integration with evolutionary theory, the origin of human cognition, and the study of the ecology and systematics of the lemurs of Madagascar.
Ian is also a prominent interpreter of human paleontology to the public, with numerous trade books to his credit, as well as several articles in Scientific American and the co-editorship of the definitive Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory. He lectures widely at venues around the world, and, as curator, has also been responsible for several major exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History, including Ancestors: Four Million Years of Humanity (1984); Dark Caves, Bright Visions: Life In Ice Age Europe (1986); Madagascar: Island of the Ancestors (1989); The First Europeans: Treasures from the Hills of Atapuerca (2003); the highly acclaimed Hall of Human Biology and Evolution (1993); and the successor Hall of Human Origins (2007).


Alessandro Melis is the first endowed chair professor of the New York Institute of Technology. He was curator of the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2021. Previously, he was Professor of Architecture Innovation at the University of Portsmouth and Director of Postgraduate Engagement at the University of Auckland. He was also a visiting professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and at Anhalt-Bauhaus Dessau, and an honorary fellow at the University of Edinburgh. The relevance of his contribution to research is corroborated by numerous international projects, over 200 publications, and by conferences at institutions the likes of the University of Cambridge, MoMA New York, and the China Academy of Art. He is co-founder of the Heliopolis 21 architecture studio. Publications on the work of Heliopolis 21 and Alessandro Melis include the monographs “Heliopolis 21” (Skira, 2022) and “Alessandro Melis. Utopic Real World ′′ (D Publisher, 2021).


Date: Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Time: From 5:00 pm To 6:00 pm

Organized by : IIC-NY

Entrance : Free

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Istituto Italiano di Cultura - NY