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CARTADITALIA - Special edition: 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage


CARTADITALIA - Special edition: 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage

                           cartaditalia horsserie tome1 cover                       cartaditalia horsserie vol2 cover

Is there a topic on which there is seemingly greater consensus than heritage? Who could deny the importance of cultivating memory of the past, of safeguarding its monuments, its most significant inheritances? Yet, during the last few years, hidden behind a facade of superficial irenicism (everyone queueing up on “Heritage Days” to visit castles and patrician villas normally closed to the general public...), there lie hidden deep, at times devastating, tensions. As we write, news is arriving from the United States that statues of Christopher Columbus have been destroyed or damaged by people wanting to protest against their value as symbols of Western imperialist colonialism.

This one example, from among the many that have filled the news during the last few years, reveals just how problematical and controversial the very concept of heritage is and to what conflictual outcomes the concrete practices associated with it can lead. When I learnt from Silvia Costa, now more than a year ago, that the European Union had declared 2018 the European Year of Cultural Heritage, I immediately thought that this was an unmissable opportunity to try and “take stock” of the situation as regards the political and scientific debate on heritage. A task that, however difficult to carry out given the complexity and variety of the implications that the “heritage question” brings to the table, appeared to me totally in line with the aspirations of CARTADITALIA, which has been engaged for around the last ten years, first in Stockholm and now in Brussels, in trying to map contemporary culture.

In order to adequately carry out a task so difficult as to appear almost impossible at times, it was first of all necessary to adopt a European approach and, une fois n’est pas coutume, make CARTADITALIA a “CARTADEUROPA”, with the contribution of scholars and experts from every part of the continent.

This was made possible thanks to the prestige and reputation of Pier Luigi Sacco, the curator of this edition, who managed not only to organise this study in such a way as to include all the different aspects, but also to identify, case by case, the people to write about these different aspects. Equally important, from the moment the project was first conceived, has been the belief and support of Massimo Bray, editorial director of the prestigious editions of the Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani, who agreed to be co-editor of this special edition of CARTADITALIA. Ambitious initiatives require ambitious resources. If the validity of a project is also measured in terms of the variety of forces it manages to mobilise around itself, then never before has CARTADITALIA managed to achieve such consensus on so many different fronts. These forces include, at an institutional level, the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, the Directorate General for Cultural and Economic Promotion and Innovation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and the Goethe-Institut. And, from the private sector, two international institutions that have been active for years in facing the challenges posed by the conservation and promotion of heritage: the company Bertelsmann, owners of the Archivio Storico Ricordi, and Google Arts & Culture. I should like to express my most heartfelt gratitude to everyone I have mentioned. Without their help, these two large volumes would never have been published.

Brussels, 15 November 2017

Paolo Grossi, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute


Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Bruxelles