SU in Florence offers week of reflections on ‘Africa and Europe: Cultural Exchange and Integration in the 21st Century’
SU in Florence offers week of reflections on ‘Africa and Europe: Cultural Exchange and Integration in the 21st Century’March 20, 2007Daeya Malboeufdmking04@syr.edu
Syracuse University in Florence (SUF) is once again dedicating the week of March 26 as the “Week of the South.” For the past two years, the week has been focused on an exploration of the south of Italy, but this semester’s “Week” will be more global in perspective, encompassing the “world’s south” — Africa.
SUF Director Barbara Deimling sees this as a timely choice, noting that “the pressing issues of today’s world make it necessary for SUF to expand boundaries to embrace ideas and explore other cultures that have a political impact on Italy.”
Focused on the theme of “Africa and Europe: Cultural Exchange and Integration in the 21st Century,” the week’s events — including class discussions — will address issues including immigration; globalization; wealth versus poverty; Italy within the Mediterranean context; Italian-African cultural, artistic and political relations; and African cinema. SUF is fortunate to be able to offer encounters with some of the most famous African artists now living in Italy.
A concert featuring the famed musical group the Gabin Dabire Trio will be the first event of the week on March 26. The concert, “New Directions: African Musical Experiments,” joins the musical traditions of Dabire’s native Burkina Faso in western Africa with those of Europe, where Dabire moved in the 1970s (currently he is an established musician in Tuscany). Dabire collaborates in multimedia events and has been active in the Center for the Promotion and Diffusion of African Culture, an organization supported by UNESCO. He plays many Western and African instruments, in particular percussion and strings. Together with his trio, he will present both new compositions and selections from earlier albums.
The second major event, on March 28, will be a lecture, “I, the Elephant Seller: The Experience of an African Author in Italy,” by best-selling African writer Pap Khouma. His book, “I, the Elephant Seller” (written in Italian), is read in public high schools as part of the education on immigration. Khouma directs the most important forum for immigrant literature in Italy, the online publication El-Ghibli, which publishes literature in Italian by immigrant authors. For the last 12 years, Khouma has lectured in schools on the history and culture of Africa and the themes of cultural exchange and integration — themes that he will address in his lecture at SUF.
Both artists will meet SUF students during their Italian classes to share insights of their experiences in Italian, and to engage in a more direct discussion where topics of integration and cultural exchange will be analyzed more deeply. Khouma’s book and the theme of immigration have been integrated into the curriculum of the Italian language and culture classes of the spring semester, to prepare the students for the discussions.
The week will conclude with a showing of the film “Dirty Pretty Things” (2002), directed by Stephen Frears, on March 29. In this thriller, Frears — the famous British director of “High Fidelity,” “Dangerous Liaisons,” “My Beautiful Laundrette” and “The Queen” — explores an unpalatable side of London: illegal immigrants trading their internal organs for money and a passport.