Keywords: Cultural Anthropology; Ethnography; Ethnology; Restitution; Ethnological Missions.
Legitimation and restitution are structural conditions of the practice of ethnographic fieldwork. An anthropologist must seek legitimacy by the social context in which he/she carries out fieldwork. For almost a century, Social Anthropology did not care about such a reciprocal legitimation, nor did it care much about restitution. Presently, the transformations of the epistemological grounds and the object of Anthropology might dissolve the discipline or urge for a deep reconsideration about its disciplinary identity and the nature of ethnographic knowledge. The latter must become the ground of programs of restitution to the people who made it possible for the researcher to achieve it. The Ethnological Missions, supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are a case in point, which shows how ethnographic activity can maintain its genuine characters and depth, and produce the political conditions for a restitution of its added value that can never be transferred to writing.