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Departing NYU Florence Director Ellyn Toscano Given Keys to the City

NYU Florence Director NYU Ellyn Toscano will soon be departing and assuming a new position with NYU in Brooklyn. On 29 November, the city of Florence recognized her contribution to the city by presenting her with a set of keys to the city. This honor was given in recognition of her “commitment to sharing her knowledge and love of the city of Florence with generations of students.” Ellyn is the founder and director of both La Pietra Dialogues and The Season, which have contributed significantly to NYU Florence / Villa La Pietra’s place as an intellectual and cultural center in the city of Florence.


NYU Florence Hosts From Tuscany to Harlem: James Baldwin and Yoran Cazac´s Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood

On 18 October, NYU Florence’s La Pietra Dialogues will host Nicholas Boggs from the NYU Department of English. Dr. Boggs will discuss the collaboration between James Baldwin and Yoran Cazac, a French painter and illustrator living in Tuscany. Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood was recently republished to great acclaim by Duke University Press.

NYU Florence Hosts Event on Feminism & Intersectionality in the Arts

On Thursday October 11, NYU Florence will host an event on Feminism & Intersectionality in the Arts.

Feminist theory has been criticized for failing to consider the intersections among patriarchy and other forms of inequality in social and political relations. The term intersectionality arose out of critical race theory to propose an analysis of “relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relations and subject formations” (Kimberlé Crenshaw). Expanding on the conversation started last year in the conference Resetting the Table: A Symposium on Feminist Art and Herstory we will explore the intersections of feminism with various other fluid and multidimensional markers and aspects of identity—including race, class, and gender identity – in approaches to art history, curating and practice, and the opening of opportunity in other institutional cultural spaces. We will begin with a discussion of the legal theory of intersectionality with NYU Law Professor Paulette Caldwell followed by a discussion with art historians Kalia Brooks and Maria Antonia Rinaldi,  curator of the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum Carmen Hermo and artists Patricia Cronin and Lerato Shadi.

NYU Florence Considers – Can Creativity Change the World?

On 24 September, NYU Florence will host a dialogue with Adama Sanneh, Co-Founder and COO of the Moleskin Foundation.

The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organization that believes that quality education is key to producing positive change in society and driving our collective future. Focusing on communities affected by cultural and social deprivation, the Foundation is committed to providing youth with unconventional educational tools and experiences that help foster critical thinking, creativity and life-long learning. With a special focus on Africa and its diaspora, the Foundation works closely with local organizations to fund, support and co-create a wide range of distinctive initiatives. Sanneh will present the new strategy of the Foundation and its main initiatives with a specific focus on the role that creativity and art can play in social transformation.

Adama graduated in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation from the University of Milan, he worked for several years in East Africa on rural development and humanitarian emergency programs. He obtained a Master in Public Management (MPM) from the Bocconi School of Management and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Geneva. After graduating, he worked as a management and strategy consultant for various public and not-for-profit organizations among which the United Nations, in education, social entrepreneurship and innovation. As Co-Founder and COO of the Moleskine Foundation, he is committed to promoting and advocating a more profound understanding of the African continent, focusing on the role that art and culture can play in social change.

Health and Human Rights Conference at NYU Florence – Conversation with CGPH Dean Healton

In this second post, Dr. Cheryl Healton, Dean of the College of Global Public Health and Professor of Public Health Policy and Management, talks with us about the third annual Health and Human Rights Conference at NYU Florence. In addition to her management responsibilities, Dr. Healton is responsible for building the College of Global Public Health’s academic, service, and research programs, which focus on domestic and international health with an emphasis on prevention, systems intervention, and innovation in public health practice. We are thrilled to share her perspective and insights on this important topic.

1. Can you tell us what the vision is for this conference and why it is important?

When I first joined NYU, I was excited by the various efforts going on university -wide in the area of human rights. I knew the Global Institute of Public Health, as we were called then, needed to become active in this area. Three key events happened that made it possible. First, and most important, I was approached by HealthRight International about forming an alliance. After much negotiation and the help of former EVP Robert Berne and the NYU legal office we signed a Memorandum of Agreement with them to collaborate on curriculum, research, and practice. We provided a physical home for them and we now employ the Executive Director, Dr. Peter Navario, who is an inspiring leader. Second, I met Joanna Pozen, referred to me by John Sexton our former President, who is an expert in health and human rights and was uniquely qualified to help us build this area. She also is an expert on women’s health and human rights, a subject near and dear to my heart. Finally, I got to now Ellyn Toscano, site director at NYU Florence who also has a keen passion for human rights and is deeply connected with human rights activists and political leaders in Italy. We were delighted to have her join our faculty too. 

The vision was simple – Could we catalyze more effective activity in the health and human rights arena by bringing together academics, NGOs, activists, government officials and students? Could we design a world class curriculum? Could we stimulate research efforts to better track and assist in meeting the needs of the large and growing numbers of refugees, displaced persons and migrants? Could we learn from each other and gain insights that none of us could achieve within our own silos? 

There are now more people without a home or homeland since the end of World War II. Many are dying in transit, many are dying in the camps meant to protect them, and and many are suffering from the sequelae of trauma. A handful of European countries play a key role in what the course of history will be in this crisis. The growing wave of fear toward immigrants and refugees is ominous and fits with the swing to the right happening in many locations around the world. Unless rational voices join in a chorus, a desperately bad situation will grow worse still.

2. I understand that this is the third annual event. Will it continue?

We just completed the third annual event and we hope to continue this effort and grow it into an annual global event attached to an appropriate international meeting. I have suggested that a global organization dedicated to health and human rights be formed to expand and accelerate momentum toward improvement in the health of those adversely affected by the wave of global dislocation occurring and also to take up the important cause of working with human rights colleagues to end this global crisis. Our current working title is The Society for Health and Human Rights.

3. Why was the event hosted in Florence? Are there any special strengths that NYU’s global presence brings to these sorts of conversations?

The Florence site is ideal for many reason but most especially due to the leadership at the site and the key role Italy has played in the refugee crisis. it is one of three countries receiving the bulk of refugees fleeing their own continent, the others are Greece and Turkey. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Nate Bertelsen who is co-appointed at the CGPH but principally with the medical school, our second meeting brought together leaders from these countries as well. At that meeting we were delighted to be addressed by the Mayor of Florence who has been especially active in the refugee crisis.

4. Were there any noteworthy points of discussion or outcomes this year?

The meeting was packed with terrific presenters and lively discussion. I was moved by the many efforts going on in other countries to address the crisis and in countries turning away refugees in large numbers. I was impressed by the efforts of academics, NYU Prague in particular, to document the rapid change in public opinion about migrants apparently precipitated by the relentless xenophobia of politicians fanning nationalistic flames. Sadly, some speakers pointed out that these politicians are emulating politicians here in the US. The efforts in Tuscany, Turkey, and elsewhere were also showcased. These countries too are burdened by changing political winds. 

5. Is there anything else the NYU community should know about this dialogue?

It is urgent for leaders, include those in academia, to work to deescalate the anti-immigrant sentiments that are rising globally. Only through dialogue and understanding can we counteract the many nefarious efforts presently underway to exaggerate the risk of immigration and downplay the advantages. Dislocation due to war, economic deprivation, as well as those fleeing from the risk of genocide are as widespread as ever in history and we must, as a world community and civil society, find solutions together. The formation of rational policies and approaches can benefit greatly from sound research and constructive dialogue. 

Health and Human Rights Conference at NYU Florence – Refugee and Migration Crisis

This is the first of two posts focusing on a recent Health & Human Rights Dialogue on the Refugee and Migration Crisis held at NYU Florence. On March 26-27, 2018, a diverse and multidisciplinary gathering of scholars, students, activists, political and civic leaders, NGO representatives, and rights advocates gathered to discuss multiple aspects of the complicated health and human rights problems posed by the current refugee crisis in Europe and beyond. This was an especially compelling opportunity for students to engage with leading public health thinkers.

Diana Klatt, a first year GPH MPH student studying at NYU Florence who participated in and presented at the Refugee and Migration Crisis Dialogue, proposed practical initiatives to address the stigmas of migrants in Italy and the sociocultural barriers they face. She found the experience rewarding, saying, “I chose to come to Florence to get a different perspective on applications of public health. It is no secret that Italy is currently receiving many migrants and that Europe is experiencing a crisis. Having the opportunity to be here and to visit and meet with various organizations and camps has been invaluable. I came to CGPH for a career change and having this experience here for a semester has made me feel like I made the right choice to work in the global public health sector.”

Rory Curtin, a student in the Cross-Continental MPH program studying at NYU Florence also participated in the Dialogue and reflected on the importance of these kinds of conversations. “Improving health and human rights world-wide starts with increasing social awareness and cultural cohesion through initiatives that promote a migrant-friendly Europe. Particularly in this dialogue, it was pertinent that all parties from UN representatives, to university deans and students, to NGO workers, were collaborating. Europe should expect to see exponential growth in their migrant population, and we as academics, humanitarian aid personnel, and everyday citizens, need to be open and prepared for this. The concept of ‘safe third countries’ such as Libya has to de-bunked, and borders re-opened to ensure humane treatment of asylum seekers. Additionally, asylum procedures need to become less complex, expensive, and time intensive, to facilitate the migration process. Finally, Dublin III and other unreasonable EU deals should be discontinued and replaced with procedures for secondary movements and resettlement of migrants. Therefore, having all those who participated come together and generate the idea that a ‘society for health and human rights’ be established is incredible, and has the potential to shake things up!”

Rory also finds that NYU’s global presence “absolutely” facilitates these types of programs. “It’s important for students to not only experience other parts of the world, but become entrenched in politics, social issues, and therefore passionate about making a difference in our increasingly interconnected world. These sorts of programs are the result of otherwise disparate groups coming together, united by at least one thing, which is that education is a certain catalyst for change.”

NYU Florence Hosts Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando – Encounter the Black in the Mediterranean Blue

On 12 April, NYU Florence will host Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando for an event entitled Encounter the Black in the Mediterranean Blue. Moderated by Alessandra di Maio of the University of Palermo, the program begins at 18:00. 

Sicily lies at the center of the Mediterranean, where Europe meets Africa. Starting in June, Palermo, the capital city of Sicily, will celebrate the richness of the Black Mediterranean, hosting a series of artistic and cultural events that reflect the diversity and dynamism of the African diaspora. Leoluca Orlando and Wole Soyinka will discuss how they are making this happen.

NYU Florence Opens The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979) Exhibition

Torino, Esposizione Elettronica, 1968
Sistema multivisione Olivetti progettato da Ettore Sottsass

The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979) exhibition curated by Caterina Toschi and produced by Ellyn Toscano, New York University Florence, opened on March 14, 2018  at 6:00 p.m. at Villa Sassetti, Florence.

The opening was preceded by a rountable discussion at 4:30 p.m. on Olivetti’s visual culture, experimental identity and corporate image between the 1950s and 1980s, and its legacy.

Caterina Toschi’s The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979), published by Quodlibet both in Italian and English editions, will be presented at the opening. The exhibition will remain on display until May 5, 2018.

The exhibition seeks to reconstruct through photographs and documents the history of the Olivetti image from 1952 to 1979, examining three places where Olivetti products were displayed (exhibitions, stores and the school), in which narrative forms – oral, written, and visual – of the Olivetti identity were progressively developed.

Curated by Caterina Toschi and produced by Ellyn Toscano for New York University. Installation by Cosimo Vardaro. The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the contribution of the archival materials held by the Associazione Archivio Storico Olivetti (AASO) in Ivrea.

NYU Florence Expores Museums, Memory and Politics: Educating about “Difficult Knowledge”

How do museums serve as sites of memory? What is at stake in the politics of representation and education? Our guests will discuss these issues looking specifically at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York; the Civil and Human Rights Center in Atlanta, Georgia; the Memorial to the 1968 My Lai Massacre in Vietnam; and the Museum of Deportation near Florence, Italy.

The NYU Florence La Pietra Dialogues. will explore these themes and more on 19 February. Program details below.

6:00 pm Introduction. ´Politics and Memory: Staging a Public History of the Civil Rights Movement: The Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta, Georgia´. Joyce Apsel, Professor, Liberal Studies, New York University.

6.05 Museums, Memory and Politics: Educating about “Difficult Knowledge”

´Dialoguing with the Site of Oppression, From Practices of Mourning to the Politics of Reconciliation: The Twinning of Prato and Ebensee and the Museum of Deportation´Davide Lombardo, NYU Florence

´Memory Politics in the National September 11 Memorial Museum´. Amy Sodaro, Associate Professor of Sociology, Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York

´Memorial to the 1968 My Lai Massacre in Vietnam: A Paradigm for Bearing Witness to the Inhuman´. Roy Tamashiro, Professor, Multidisciplinary Studies Department, Webster University (USA)

7:00 Q&A

Politics and Memory: Staging a Public History of the Civil Rights Movement: The Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta, Georgia

Joyce Apsel introduces the concept of politics of memory in the context of the last decades’ museum memory boom and its link to the politics of education. Her presentation focuses on how the U.S. civil rights movement is remembered in the Civil and Human Rights Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. Through interactive displays and staging, the Centre attempts to balance depiction of the sacrifice, struggle and martyrdom against segregation, lynching and other forms of racism with a message to inspire activism and hope today.

Dialoguing with the Site of Oppression, From Practices of Mourning to the Politics of Reconciliation: The Twinning of Prato and Ebensee and the Museum of Deportation

Davide Lombardo looks at the unexpected story of the twinning of the Italian city of Prato and the city of Ebensee in Austria and the result: the Museum of Deportation in Figline di Prato near the site of an execution of partisans. Italy is a country where there is a long history of the practice of top-down politics of memory, from the celebration of Risorgimento for Nation building purposes, to the Fascist appropriation of the First World War, The museum in Figline di Prato is Recon an example of recent politics of memory founded on grass root activism on the part of ex deportees at Mauthausen, Their early vision of the need of a politics of reconciliation resulted in 1987 in the twinning of the city of Prato with the town of Ebensee in Austria.

Memory Politics in the National September 11 Memorial Museum

Amy Sodaro, author of the recently published Exhibiting Atrocity: Memorial Museums and the Politics of Past Violence, provides a comparative global analysis of how politics influence the depiction of past violence. Her presentation discusses the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City situating the site within the broader “memorial landscape.”

Memorial to the 1968 My Lai Massacre in Vietnam: A Paradigm for Bearing Witness to the Inhuman

Dr. Roy Tamashiro explores how the Sơn Mỹ Memorial and Museum in Vietnam memorializes the 1968 Mỹ Lai Massacre. He describes how the museum provides space for reflection and bearing witness to the profound suffering in the Massacre. Facing the inhuman at the museum then provides the opportunity for transformative learning, for personal and societal healing, and for reclamation of human dignity.