Sunday, October 24, 2004

New site for the Italian Association of Semiotic Studies (AISS)

The new website of the Italian Association of Semiotic Studies (AISS) is now online!

Sample posting from the home page:

Il XXXII Congresso dell'Associazione Italiana di Studi Semiotici, dedicato a "Il discorso della salute. Testi, pratiche, culture", avrà luogo a Spoleto (Pg), presso il Chiostro San Nicolò, dal 29 ottobre all'1 novembre 2004.

Il Congresso è organizzato in collaborazione con la Fondazione SigmaTau. Ha ottenuto il patrocinio e un contributo della Regione Umbria, della Provincia di Perugia e del Comune di Spoleto, delle Università di Palermo e Perugia, nonché un contributo della Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio e della Credito e Servizi di Spoleto. Hanno altresì contributo all'organizzazione la Società italiana di Antropologia della medicina e la Fondazione Angelo Celli.

Data la forte caratterizzazione interdisciplinare dell'incontro, sono stati invitati, accanto a un folto gruppo di semiologi italiani e non, anche studiosi di altre discipline come l'antropologia, la filosofia, la sociologia, l'etnometodologia, la psichiatria e la psicanalisi, nonché esperti e rappresentanti del mondo dei mass media.

Sono disponibili: il programma, la lista della relazioni e degli abstract, l'elenco delle comunicazioni dei soci con gli abstract, il programma del workshop di sociosemiotica. Sono previste, inoltre, due tavole rotonde, sul sintomo e il discorso e sulle droghe e altre dipendenze.

[Visit the AISS home page >>]

[Visit the AISS Facebook page >>]

Click here to see my short video montage from the 2003 AISS XXXI Conference "Semiofood. Comunicazione e cultura del cibo", held in Castiglioncello, 3-5 October 2003.

Monday, October 11, 2004

My participation in the national protest against the Moratti draft law

The other week I took a very tough decision: to participate personally in the national protest of public university researchers at present in progress against the draft law proposed by the Italian Minister of Educationa and Researh, Letizia Moratti. In essence the proposal contains legislationary strategies which will change in decisive ways the legal status of university researchers and professors, in an attempt to make the university system - as the minister herself has frequently stated - "more flexible.". The protest now in progress represents a large body of opinion among members of the university community that considers the proposals in the present draft law as potentially harmful to quantity and, more importantly, the quality of scientific research in public universities in Italy in the future.

For more on the proposed draft law see the following review of the situation as of September 30th on The Scientist website: Italy's academics threaten strike.

My contribution to the protest so far has been to promote and present for subsequent adoption by our Faculty Council of a motion, signed by myself and two other researchers at the School of Communication and Economic Science at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, against the content of the draft law.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Flashtrip to Finland and Russia

Got back the week before last on Saturday night (or rather Sunday morning - June 13th at 2 am!!) from St. Petersburg [here is an alternative St. Petersburg website] in Russia, where we spent three very interesting days (with beautiful weather too!) while on our way back to Italy from three pleasant and stimulating days in Imatra, where we took part in an international semiotics seminar entitled "What Is Communication - Epistemological and Empirical Foundations of Transmission Signs". Here are some video-clips from my and other presentations in Imatra.

This was only one of an impressive list of seminars constituting an annual event in Imatra known as The Semiotic Web: International Summer Schools For Semiotic And Structural Studies organised by the well-known International Semiotics Institute, coordinated by Eero Tarasti, who must surely qualify for the title of "Mr Semiotics Himself" in Finland.

As the Imatra website points out, Imatra is a border town which shares a frontier with Russia. The former industrial settlement of Enso (now the Russian town of Svetogorsk) lies just on the other side of the border, which means that Imatra and Svetogorsk are in the unique position of being the only twin towns which gaze at one another over the border between the European Union and Russia, so it was quite obvious that if we were in Imatra, we could not avoid making the trip over the order to St. Petersburg, which is in fact only about five hours by train from Imatra (via and Vyborg)

It was well worth the trip!

However, to end off this note, a few well-chosen words to Russian President Vladimir Putin:

Please, please do something to make your tourist visa application process more simple!!

At the present time it is necessary first to book a hotel for the entire period you intend to visit Russia for (not always easy either). Then you have to ask the hotel or agency you book with to fax you back a letter confirming your booking. You then have to send this letter with your visa application to the Russian embassy in your homeland. When you get the visa back it is only valid for the exact period covered by your hotel bookings.

This all makes the whole travel planning and visa application process for Russia much more rigid and complicated than necessary.

I am quite sure that with a bit of goodwill and some fresh thinking on the part of the Russian immigration and tourism authorities the whole process could be quite easily made more simple and user-friendly.

If you really do want more people to visit beautiful, dynamic and culturally significant cities like St. Petersburg and to develop and maintain a positive impression of Russia as a tourist-friendly place, then paying close attention to these kinds of details will be absolutely vital!

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Back from Phnom Penh- tired but happy

Patrizia and I got back from Phnom Penh last Thursday (February 20th) after a two and a half week visit to Cambodia. It was the first time for both of us and the whole trip proved to be a very interesting and exciting experience. Our journey back home was fairly long (amongst other things 13 hours by air from Singapore to Paris) but that did not at all put a damper on our enthusiasm and enjoyment of the whole thing. The weather in Cambodia was clement and rain-free the whole time and we were able to see quite a bit, both in Phnom Penh and at Angkor Wat (more on this later...). The main stimulus for our visit was provided by a couple of friends and colleagues of Patrizia who are involved in coopertive scientific work in Cambodia: anthropologist Matilde Callari Galli of the School of Educational Science at the University of Bologna who for a number of years has been involved in the development of, amongst many other projects, a Master in Tourism Management at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and mass media researcher Stefano Magistretti of the Department of Italian Studies at the University of London who is at present spending a year in Phnom Penh to study the effects of the growth of internet based communication in the region on the development of Cambodian society. While there he is based at the Department of Media and Communication Studies at the Royal University. More later....

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Friday last I sent a proposal forwarded by myself, Giovanna Cosenza and Patrizia for a workshop on the semiotics of new media. The workshop is conceived as part of the session Theoretical semiotics and epistemology" at the 8th Congress of the International Association of Semiotic Studies, Semio2004: Signs of the world : Interculturality and globalisation

The congress is presented in the following way on the Semio2004 website:

"Signs are conceived and circulate in a world whose recent evolution implies a change in the nature of geopolitical and intercultural relations. The evolution in the means of exchange, in the representations of the world and the strategies devised by political and institutional actors lead semioticians to appraise and update their concepts and analysis tools.."

The general mandate for the section on theoretical semiotics and epistemology is as follows:

“The theoretical origins of semiotics will be subject to contemporary debate on the sign and communication. Do New Information and Communication Technologies (N.I.C.T.) require semiotics to invent special methods or procedures for analysis and interpretation? In this framework great theoretical questions about the objects and the boundaries of semiotics will also be tackled.”