Presentation

The main purpose of creating the UNESCO-IULM Chair in “Cultural and Comparative Studies on the Imaginary” is to analyze the interactive network of mental representations through which groups and nations construct not only their identities but also their prejudices, thereby preventing the possibility of true intercultural dialogue.

Wars, terrorism, difficulty in managing immigration, conflict caused by the presence of religious and ethnic minorities, these are all clear examples of an endemic lack of understanding of the characteristic complexes and symbolic images that govern the mentality of a population and hinder an open, multiethnic dialogue.

The study of tension, not only tangible but above all imaginary and symbolic, which determines the integration or lack of integration of religious and ethnic groups, the recomposition of the images that different groups form of each other through stereotypical information, representations shared by the community, “phantoms” and so on, all these constitute necessary and urgent challenges that demand responses and commitment in order to overcome the frontiers of incomprehension, nationalism and fundamentalism.

It is for this reason that a systematic study of the imaginary is needed, aimed at understanding the nature of the different images, as well as the mechanisms that generate them, make them work, and transmit them. In this way it will be possible to send out a non-falsified image of the cultural heritage of different nations, and of developing countries in particular.

Objectives
  • To realize a coherent set of training activities, research, information and documentation in the field of the imaginary (transversal and multidisciplinary studies).
  • To facilitate collaboration at an international level between researchers and professors in the teaching and research units of the partner Universities, thereby intensifying mobility.
  • To promote an integrated system of research activities in order to:
    • foster an interdisciplinary comparison of knowledge and methodologies through increased research into the imaginary, thereby contributing to their diffusion throughout the world;
    • to guarantee the diffusion of results through the creation of a trilingual magazine in Italian, French and English;
    • to encourage the integration of young researchers.

A reflection on the imaginary can lead to a rigorous analysis of the origins and cultural identities of certain countries:

  • by encouraging processes of identification;
  • by supporting analyses of the cultural heritage of different countries;
  • by carrying out a study of the symbolic processes linked to the identities of different countries;
  • by examining the presence of “major complexes” in different cultures;
  • by understanding the mechanisms that govern the formation, diffusion, functioning and life in general of the images;
  • by promoting interculturality through the demystification of “blocking images” (prejudices, stereotypes, clichés) and the valorisation of an imaginary that can lead to integration;
  • by analyzing the conflicting systems of certain images.
Expected results
  • Expansion of intercultural dialogue through comparative studies of identity and difference from a symbolic and imaginative perspective.
  • Demystification of stereotypes, phantoms and collective images which hinder genuinely reciprocal awareness.
  • Diffusion and globalization of tools and methods created thanks to research on the imaginary for analyzing different socio-cultural contexts (local specificity and global components).
  • Promotion of research through the organisation of events in collaboration with partner Universities.
  • Scientific, bibliographic and logistic support for all researchers and students working on topics related to the imaginary.
  • Greater mobility of professors, young researchers, postgraduates and undergraduates.
  • Valorisation of results through their diffusion in publications targeting developing countries in particular.