After eleven successful editions, attended by more than 200,000 people, the festival of contemporary anthropology Pistoia-Dialogues on Man returns from 18–20 June 2021.
To go beyond the horizon—a quest, a striving that has always characterized the evolution of humankind from the exploration of Earth and space, which made it possible to create new habitats and to build new knowledge, to the need to seek new forms of spirituality, both religious and secular, beyond the here-and-now of daily life.
Here is why the fil rouge of the 2021 edition of the Dialogues will be the many paths leading to new horizons: the way of pilgrims belonging to many world faiths, the routes of migrants fleeing from poverty and death, the adventurous course of explorers, and the endless quest of scientists, artists and philosophers. As it is customary, in their twelfth edition Pistoia’s Dialogues on Man will see the participation of a number of eminent scholars. Experts in various forms of religious spirituality will explore man’s striving to transcend earthly life, side by side with scientists committed to studying our material world in search of keys to the understanding of life; with travellers and explorers who have tried to cross borders and overcome limits; and with artists and art scholars, whose drive to creating new realities will be examined. For our ancestors did not walk out of Africa only with their feet, but also with their imagination, hope, faith, confidence in others, their longing to investigate unknown dimensions of man—all of this made it possible not only to discover our planet, but also to transcend it.
The choice of the theme of this year’s Dialogues was made, also in consideration of Pistoia’s role in the celebrations of the 2021 Jacobean Year. Pistoia lies on a portion of the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, and St. James (San Jacopo) is the city’s patron saint. The right aisle of Pistoia Cathedral was once occupied by the chapel of San Jacopo, built in the 12th century to house relics of St. James the Great brought from Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Thus, on 9 January, 2021, the Holy Door was exceptionally opened in the cathedral of Pistoia, and for the whole year the city will be attracting pilgrims just like Santiago.
This festival offers a new way of performing cultural analyses, novel both for the anthropological approach (it was a forerunner in adopting this method), and for the production of cultural content. Indeed, a continued commitment to offer audiences conferences, shows and unusual encounters over the years has seen the festival grow, complemented by several other initiatives.
“Twelve years ago, creating a festival of contemporary anthropology seemed extremely innovative”, recalled Giulia Cogoli, “But the world is changing before our very eyes and as such, trying to understand the reality surrounding us today from the anthropological perspective is perhaps one of the most useful things to propose. Because it means rekindling interest in other people, in other cultures, where the connection is not merely in terms of respect and dialogue but also the awareness that we are all in the same boat, on a journey through humanity, freed from the dead wood of racism and indifference that weigh so heavily on daily life”.
Cultures are always work in progress, constantly evolving, and cultural exchanges are the rule, not the exception. The festival believes that culture makes us better human beings.