The Dante Alighieri Society of British Columbia

 For the promotion of Italian language and culture

Envisage a New Kind of Housing Complex – the Transcultural Caravanserai

Is there a way to use physical space to promote inclusion of people and of cultures?

“Can we conceive urban spaces and buildings in a way that may help us to at least partially deal with the challenges our societies are facing in the wake of massive migratory flows? Is there a way to use physical space to promote inclusion – of new people and new cultures – instead of sanctioning separation and juxtaposition?” These were some of the questions UBC’s Dr. Arianna Dagnino addressed in her speech “Global Nomads, Modern Caravanserais and Neighbourhood Commons.”

The talk was delivered on Wed. Jan 27, 2016 at an event co-hosted by The Dante Alighieri Society of BC and  ARPICO(Society of Italian Researchers & Professionals in Western Canada). The venue was the Alma VanDusen Conference Room in Library Square and it was packed with over 60 curious and engaged listeners. In her presentation, Dr. Dagnino – an academic researcher, writer, and socio-cultural analyst – floated the idea that we might look at the past to find inspiration for solutions to the disruptive effects of mass-migrations on urban centres and societies. At the core of Dagnino’s vision are the caravanserais – the road inns that were to be found along the trade routes of late antiquity. Those poly-functional hubs, in which locals and foreigners, sedentary people and travelling nomads could meet and mix, fostered a continuous exchange not just of material goods but also of spiritual and cultural values, allowing the contact between people to become enriching and mutually beneficial. This spirit, Dr. Dagnino has argued, must be restored in our 21st century societies – marred on the one hand by consumerism and on the other by fear of the ‘Other’. It may well be the time for architects and urban planners, the speaker concluded, to re-evaluate and re-imagine the idea of the caravanserai when conceiving the places where we have to live, perform and meet.

The gauntlet launched to the audience by Dr. Dagnino prompted a lively debate and even raised the interest of a planner from the Vancouver area who declared that this way of thinking about the design of physical spaces would be a positive contribution to the planning profession and should be shared with other planners. Debate could not end there – it continued well into the networking/refreshments segment to everyone’s delight.

Dr. Arianna Dagnino currently teaches at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where she is conducting research in the field of transcultural studies. Her research interests focus on how socio-economic factors and cultural changes linked to global mobility shape identities, interpersonal relations, cultural practices, and urban environments. She recently has been invited to take part in the Scientific Committee of the forthcoming editorial series of studies, funded by the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies of Politecnico di Milano, entitled “Inclusive Interiors.”

For members of the audience and public at large who wish to contact her about her research and topic, she may be reached at arianna.dagnino@ubc.ca


  


INVITATION TO THE EVENT 

The Dante Alighieri Society of BC and ARPICO and are pleased to invite you to a 
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Global Nomads, Modern Caravanserais and Neighbourhood Commons
Dr. Arianna Dagnino
Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 7.00 pm
Vancouver Public Library, Alma VanDusen Room, 350 W Georgia St., Vancouver BC V6B 6B1
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Global cities such as Vancouver, London, Berlin or Sydney currently face two major challenges: housing affordability and the risk of highly fragmented societies along cultural lines.
In her talk "Global Nomads, Modern Caravanserais and Neighbourhood Commons" Dr. Dagnino argues that one of the possible solutions to address the negative aspects of economic globalization and the disruptive effects of mass-migrations is to envisage a new kind of housing complex, “the transcultural caravanserai."
The caravanserai in itself is not a new concept: in late antiquity until the advent of the railway, this kind of structure functioned to lodge nomads along the caravan routes in the desert regions of Asia or North Africa and allowed people on the move to meet and interact with members of sedentary communities.
Dr. Dagnino re-visits the socio-cultural function of the caravanserai showing its potential as a polyfunctional hub of mutual hospitality and creative productivity. She also gives account of how contemporary architects and designers have already started to re-envisage the role of the caravanserai for the global city of the future not only as a transcultural "third space" that courageously cuts across ethnicities, cultures, and religions but also as a model for low-rise, high density urban complex. This model contemplates a mix of residential units, commercial and trades activities, craftsman workshops, arts studios, educational enterprises, and public spaces for active fruition, thus reinstating the productive use of property and the residents' engagement with the Commons. 
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Dr. Arianna Dagnino is an Italian researcher, writer, and socio-cultural analyst. She holds an M.A. in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures from l’Università  degli Studi di Genova and a Ph.D. in Sociology and Comparative Literature from the University of South Australia. She currently teaches at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where she is conducting research in the field of transcultural studies. She is a Board Member of the newly-established Dante Alighieri Society of British Columbia (www.dantesocietybc.ca).
Dr. Dagnino research interest focuses on how socio-economic factors and cultural changes linked to global mobility shape identities, interpersonal relations, cultural practices, and urban environments. As an international journalist and scholar, Dr. Dagnino has travelled across and lived in various parts of the globe. Her neonomadic routes have led her to study Russian in Gorbachev’s Moscow, investigate the researchers' quest for ground-breaking technologies at MIT in Boston, witness the momentous change of regime in South Africa, analyze the effects of multiculturalism in Australia, and examine the progressive Asianization of Western Canada. In her twenty-year long activity Dr. Dagnino has published several books on the socio-cultural impact of globalization, transnational flows, and digital technologies. Among them, I Nuovi Nomadi (New Nomads; Castelvecchi, 1996), Uoma (Woman-Machine, Mursia, 2000), and Jesus Christ Cyberstar (IPOC, 2009 [2002]). Dr. Dagnino is also the author of a transcultural novel, Fossili (Fossils, Fazi Editore, 2010), inspired by her four years spent in sub-Saharan Africa, and of the recently published book Transcultural Authors and Novels in the Age of Global Mobility (Purdue University Press, 2015). 
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Please join us for a presentation & lively discussion.

Date & Time: January 27, 2016, 7.00 pm. Doors open at 6.45 pm.

Location: Vancouver Public Library, Alma VanDusen Room, 350 W Georgia St., Vancouver BC V6B 6B1 
Parking is available underground in the library building with entrance on Hamilton Street near Robson until midnight.

Refreshments: Complimentary following the event
Admission: Free
RSVP: Registration is highly recommended as seating is limited. Please register at info@arpico.ca by January 25, 2016, or at Event Brite: Link to the event: https://goo.gl/phAxTw

We look forward to seeing you at the event.
Best Regards,
ARPICO - Society of Italian Researchers and Professionals in Western Canada
and The Dante Society of BC

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*** For more information about both hosts, please visit www.arpico.ca and www.dantesocietybc.ca


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