Interview met Dr. Perla Innocenti

Doctor Innocenti. May I ask you who you are, what your function is and what your specialties are?
I am a senior lecturer for mission science at the University of North Umbria in the UK, Newcastle. I am also an honorary research fellow at the University of Glasgow. I am Italian. My background is in cultural heritage. So I have a mixed background of studies and I am experienced in artistry, museum studies, cultural heritage, digital library, digital observation and information management. So the last years I have been going back to my cultural heritage soul. Because I am very passionate about it: cultural heritage in our contemporary world. I bring my experience from Information Management, digital observation and digital library to current challenges and opportunities for cultural heritage in a digital world. In particular I have been looking at cultural identity, issues and opportunities at European level and questions of migration, socializing and cultural dialogue. But also at cultural associations at local, national and transnational level. And how humanities can contribute to contemporary societal challenges in the area. Right now, the country that have been my residence for 9 years (the UK) just decided to leave Europe, so we are having interesting times.

interview met Dr. Perla Innocenti
interview met Dr. Perla Innocenti

What is the reason that you are here at Imagine IC?
I am a fan. I discovered Imagine IC by chance, online. Some years ago, when I started my research on social inclusion, cultural dialogue heritage and digital technologies. I was specifically looking for daring cultural institutions. They were pushing the agenda and experimenting. New approaches and they were getting their hands dirty with material life issues. I am very much interested in theoretical aspects but also how to translate them to practice. So applied heritage is important to me. It is about who we are today. Because culture is about what we value, what is important for us, where we come from but also about our present and where we are going. So we are constantly negotiating our cultures and our identities. It is like a process of negotiation, translation, mediation, sometimes conflicts, compromises but also reconsideration. I am very interested in exploring these dynamics and patterns and different actors in the process. I think some cultural institutions can be very conservative. But I’m practically attracted to institutions as Imagine IC who are pioneering new approaches but at the same time managing this transition between continuities and changes. So I found Imagine IC only by chance and here I am! I have to say that I am very pleased of being here because you can learn a lot online. But meeting people in person, seeing things in person and participating things in person is much more engaging. It was great to be here today at this event. It was a very lively engaging discussion.

What do you think about this particular program 'City Feeling' and what comment do you remember?
I have been talking a lot of notes. I am very passionate by nature and I am also passionate being Italian. You are from Rome. I am not saying the garage and the colosseum have the same meaning, but maybe they do? In 2000 years? Yes. Although I never been there and ever seen this place, I do not have any personal memories attached to it. By listening to the stories of these people and their passion and emotions. Somehow I got tuned up to their own stories and feelings. Because now I got some places in Rome, Glasgow and Newcastle where I have my own memories. Similar buildings, that have been there since I was a kid. They have a special meaning to me and they are part of my identity. Maybe they will never appear in history or in heritage books. So I think this debate is really important to ask what makes contemporary heritage and then to consider not just quantitative aspects but also qualitative aspects. Not just traditional qualitative aspects and instead of incentive value and historical value, also collective community value and community memories.

What is your own vision on emotional network or emotion networks that came forward in the program?
I’m not sure if I have an answer. Three aspects I think are important for emotion network. The first aspect is to have the possibility to give people space and time where to network. Because this kind of engagement requires time, so a proper space, a vicious space but also time. So this afternoon was quite some time. This is a commitment that Imagine IC is taking to a longer period of time, it’s important to be committed. And for emotional network you should be sustainable. And here I’m thinking particularly in terms of cultural sustainability, so connecting communities and then connecting people at policy level and connecting the mediators (what I call cultural connectors).

The second aspect is about selection, and that is a thing in emotion network that I’m not quite sure about, because in a network you chose people that might be handy for you in the future. So with emotion networks you chose people that have similar emotions as you. But then someone in the audience was saying that we also need contrasts. If you want to know emotions about the garage, it’s not just ‘oh look at us, we all have the same ideas’, but you have to listen to the other voice. Contrast is important because it’s really like a concert. In a concert you many different instruments, but if you are a good conductor from this variety of different sounds you will get beautiful music. So you need different voices. But at the same time when you select emotions, what about the moment of time. Because how many emotions can you have in a day? Or even in an hour? And what about the difference between a generation? Because I can love the building now. But maybe in 10 years if I have a small family and living next door, I’ll hate that building. Because of the festivals, because now I have a baby or whatever and I want it to be safe and clean in my area. How do you negotiate different needs and different voices? I think focusing on emotions is important, because cultural heritage has been penalized in the past years because politicians and then economies try to push heritage. For example heritage value could also have a economic aspect, but is also about social aspects, emotional aspects, it’s about historical dimensions. There are so many different aspects to it.

The third aspect that I could add is that the network should have a scoop, so what would be the scoop of emotional network? To unleash emotions? Like it’s happening in UK now. To provide a safe space where people can express themselves and channel their emotions for a purpose? Just a network for chatting, sharing emotions? Or a network for collaborating through sharing emotions.

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