Page 1


Thematic issue on

Activities of the Academia Europaea Barcelona Knowledge Hub 2013–2016

Volume 12 | Issue 2 | December 2016





(Centre) Gaudí’s ceramic dragon at the entrance of Park Güell, Barcelona. With its bright scales of small tiles, it represents Python, Delphian guardian of the underground waters, the source of wisdom. Python, Gaia’s son, spelled oracles, early symbol of the communication of knowledge and science. This Gaudi's icon is also an adequate, artistic representative of the AE-BKH and was included, together with a sketch of the Mediterranean, in the AE-BKH logotype. (Bottom) Barcelona’s skyline with "trencadís", a type of mosaic made with broken tiles characteristic of Catalan Modernism (©MBerlanga). (Background) Map of Barcelona in 1563, from Anton van den Wyngaerde (1525-1571) (Wikiland). On the western part of the old city, where the AE-BKH is located at the premises of the Institute for Catalan Studies, most of the hospitals of the Medieval Barcelona were built and worked for centuries.

Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science show in their first page one photograph of a "trencadís". The Catalan archi­ tect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) used them in many projects, among which Barcelona's Parc Güell. Gaudí graduated from the Provincial School of Architecture in 1878. Upon graduation, Gaudí initially worked in the artistic vein of his Victorian predecessors, but he soon developed his own style, composing his works with juxtapositions of geometric masses and animating the surfaces with patterned brick or stone, bright ceramic tiles and floral or reptilian metalwork. An architect’s designs is the best representation of his own personality. Even for experts on Gaudí, his handwriting and verbal and written correspondence offer new insights into his personality, sense of life and maturity reached with years and experience. (See article by Gomis & Katte at pp. 145-149 of this issue.)

Volume 12 | Issue 2 | December 2016

Editorial Board

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Ricard Guerrero

Biological Sciences Section, IEC



Science and Technology Section, IEC

Biological Sciences Section, IEC

EDITORIAL BOARD The Science and Technology and Biological Sciences Sections:

Joaquim Agulló, Technical University of Catalonia • Josep Amat, Technical University of Catalonia • Francesc Asensi, University of Valencia • Damià Barceló, Spanish National Research Council (Barcelona) • Carles Bas, Institute of Marine Sciences-CSIC (Barcelona) • Pilar Bayer, University of Barcelona • Xavier Bellés, Spanish National Research Council (Barcelona) • Jaume Bertranpetit, Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona) • Eduard Bonet, ESADE (Barcelona) • Joaquim Casal, Technical University of Catalonia • Alícia Casals, Technical University of Catalonia • Josep Castells, University of Barcelona • Jacint Corbella, University of Barcelona • Jordi Corominas, Technical University of Catalonia • Michel Delseny, University of Perpinyà • Josep M. Domènech, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Mercè Durfort, University of Barcelona • Marta Estrada, Institute of Marine Sciences-CSIC (Barcelona) • Gabriel Ferraté, Technical University of Catalonia • Ramon Folch, Institute for Catalan Studies • Màrius Foz, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Jesús A. Garcia-Sevilla, University of the Balearic Islands • Lluís Garcia-Sevilla, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Joan Genescà, National Autonomous University of Mexico • Evarist Giné, University of Connecticut (USA) • Joan Girbau, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Pilar González-Duarte, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Francesc González-Sastre, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Joaquim Gosálbez, University of Barcelona • Albert Gras, University of Alacant • Gonzalo Halffter, National Polytechnic Institute (Mexico) • Lluís Jofre, Technical University of Catalonia • Joan Jofre, University of Barcelona • David Jou, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Ramon Lapiedra, University of Valencia • Àngel Llàcer, Hospital Clinic of Valencia • Josep Enric Llebot, Auto­nomous University of Barcelona • Jordi Lleonart, Spanish National Research Council (Barcelona) • Xavier Llimona, University of Barcelona • Antoni Lloret, Institute for Catalan Studies • Abel Mariné, University of Barcelona • Joan Massagué, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York (USA) • Federico Mayor-Zaragoza, Foundation for a Culture of Peace (Madrid) • Adélio Machado, University of Porto (Portugal) • Gabriel Navarro, University of Valencia • Jaume Pagès, Technical University of Catalonia • Ramon Parés, University of Barcelona • Àngel Pellicer, New York University (USA) • Juli Peretó, University of Valencia • F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, Harvard University (USA) • Norberto Piccinini, Politecnico di Torino (Italy) • Jaume Porta, University of Lleida • Pere Puigdomènech, Spanish National Research Council (Barcelona) • Jorge-Óscar Rabassa, National University of La Plata (Argentina) • Pere Roca, University of Barcelona • Joan Rodés, University of Barcelona • Joandomènec Ros, University of Barcelona • Claude Roux, University of Aix-Marseille III (France) • Pere Santanach, University of Barcelona • Francesc Serra, Autonomous University of Barcelona • David Serrat, University of Barcelona • Boris P. Sobolev, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia • Carles Solà, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Joan Antoni Solans, Technical University of Catalonia • Rolf Tarrach, University of Luxembourg • Jaume Terradas, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Antoni Torre, Obra Cultural de l’Alguer • Josep Vaquer, University of Barcelona • Josep Vigo, University of Barcelona • Miquel Vilardell, Autonomous University of Barcelona • Jordi Vives, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona

Volume 12 | Issue 2 | December 2016



“Spread eastwards along the old sea.” The accomplishment of an idea: the Barcelona Knowledge Hub

Martí G, Dierssen M, Pogge T


The AE-BKH Disputatio of Barcelona, 2013–2016

Piqueras M, Guerrero R


The AE-BKH Women’s Week, 2013–2016




Arab Spring or long desolated Arab Winter?

Newman MA


Migrations of meaning: Women, translation, visibility, invisibility

Skinner N


The Mediterranean, bridge of cultures. Lectures at the AE-BKH in 2014

Chica C


Alexandria: History and culture

Costa-Guix X


Barcelona Dialogue: A Collaborative Project between Northeastern University, Boston and the AE-BKH




Partners of the AE-BKH:

Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus

FOREWORD/PRESENTATION OF THE ISSUE Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Catalonia


CONTRIB SCI 12(2):79-82 (2016) doi:10.2436/20.7010.01.247

“Spread eastwards along the old sea.” The accomplishment of an idea: the AE-Barcelona Knowledge Hub* Ricard Guerrero,1 Andreu Mas-Colell2 Academic director, AE-BKH, Barcelona. 2University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona


Trencadís (“broken tiles”) by Antoni Gaudí

Summary. The Academia Europaea was founded in 1988 as an international non-governmental, not-for-profit association. Currently, it has over 4000 elected members from the whole European continent. Among its goals is to provide a pan-European multidisciplinary dimension spanning beyond the borders of the different nations and recognizing the excellence of learned societies and organizations. The Academy has four regional hubs in Wroclaw, Barcelona, Bergen and Cardiff. The Barcelona Knowledge Hub (AE-BKH) was set up in 2013 as the Academia Europaea’s hub for the Mediterranean and Southern European region. It was born under the auspices of three Catalan institutions, the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Council and the Foundation La Caixa. The Institute for Catalan Studies provided its facilities for the location of the headquarters of the AE-BKH. Since its creation, the AE-BKH has developed every year many activities, being the most important the Women’s Week (in March) and the recovery of the Middle Ages’ Disputatio of Barcelona (in November). In addition, other activities have been developed related to significant issues that society faces, always with a multidisciplinary perspective, and covering both sciences and humanities. [Contrib Sci 12(2):79-82 (2016)] Keywords: Barcelona Knowledge Hub · Academia Europaea’s hubs · Disputatio of Barcelona Correspondence: Andreu Mas-Colell

The Academia Europaea: promoting learning, education and research The Academia Europaea (AE) [], founded in 1988, is a pan-European, non-governmental, not-

for-profit association of individual scientists and scholars who are elected by nomination and recognised by their peers as experts and leaders in their fields. The AE is independent of national governments. Its main goal is to support the culture of European research through dialogue and collaboration.

* “Estesa per llevant al llarg de la vella mar.” From the poem M’han demanat que parli de la meva Europa (“I have been asked to talk of my Europe”) by Salvador Espriu, 1959.

ISSN (print): 1575-6343 e-ISSN: 2013-410X

CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):79-82 (2016)

Foreword/Presentation of the issue

The AE has over 4000 elected members from 37 European countries, plus Turkey and Israel, including a substantial number of recipients of prestigious awards, medals and prizes. Fifty-four members are Nobel Prize winners and 13 of them are Fields Medal recipients. The AE publishes European Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal covering contemporary issues in Europe, including those related to economics, history, social science and other general sciences. In its mission statement, the AE is committed to identifying topics of trans-European importance to science and scholarship, and to proposing appropriate action to ensure that these topics are adequately addressed. It promotes a wider appreciation of the value of European scholarship and of research and encourages interdisciplinary and international scholarship in all areas of learning of relevance to Europe. In addition, where appropriate to its expertise, it provides independent and impartial advice to European institutions, governments and international agencies concerning matters affecting science, scholarship and academic life in Europe.

guidance to solve problems of many different issues—scientific, technological, economic, social—throughout its wide range of fields and topics areas. These experts can be local and national, but the formula that provides an assembly of people who share knowledge and experience, and with a view both basic and applied that crosses disciplinary and cultural boundaries, is the best capable of responding to issues of national and international scope. The members of the AE represent an effective means to provide a rigorous and independent perspective, whichs is something that governments in any country will indeed appreciate. Another important aspect of the AE is its absolute independence, which is the key to the impartiality of the observations of its members whenever their opinions are requested— or voluntarily provided by themselves—about European science and knowledge.

The Barcelona Knowledge Hub The Barcelona Knowledge Hub (AE-BKH) is the office of the Academia Europaea �������������������������������������� for the Mediterranean and Southern European region. Its main focus is the promotion of activities of interest for the members of the Academy and for the scientific community in general, with special emphasis on multidisciplinary scientific activities that include the perspective of the natural, biomedical and social sciences and the humanities. According with the general goals of the AE, the Barcelona hub organizes itself to contribute to the promotion and consolidation of a European area in which innovation, research, education achieve the best results that surely will contribute to the wellness of people. The AE-BKH office is located in the building of the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC). The IEC is an academic, scientific and cultural corporation whose purpose is scientific research and its dissemination, principally that involving all elements of Catalan culture. It was founded in 1907 and has been a member of the Union Académique Internationale (UAI) since 1922, and of ALLEA since 2014. The creation of the Barcelona hub was a long matured idea in order to take a further step in the consolidation and recognition of Barcelona as a city with a long history in the scientific, technological and social development. Barcelona is fitted with the institutions and the physical and human resources to promote the advancement of knowledge in all fields by understanding the benefits it poses to society. The idea and progression of this project was discussed with different persons from the Academy and various institutions.

The organisation of the Academia Europaea The AE is run by a Board of Trustees, which acts as the executive management board. Currently, the President of the AE is Sierd Cloetingh (Professor of Tectonics, Vrije University, Amsterdam). Anne Buttimer (Emeritus Professor of Geography at University College Dublin) is Vice-President, and Roger Elliot (Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Oxford) is the Honorary Treasurer. The Executive Secretary to the Board is David Coates. The remainder of the Board is composed of members of the AE elected by the AE Council. The Council comprises members of the Board of Trustees, the chairs of the academic sections (Statutory Council members) and a number of independent members (up to five) elected individually at the Annual General Meeting. The scholarly interests of the AE are managed through a Section structure. On election, all members are assigned to a Section. Currently, there are twenty-two academic Sections. The AE has its headquarters in London, and it also has four regional hubs: the hub for central and Eastern Europe, located in Wroclaw and started in 2012; the hub for Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, located in Barcelona and started in 2013; the hub for the Northern European region, located in Bergen and started in 2015; and the hub for the United Kingdom and Central Europe, located in Cardiff and started in 2016. Nations, countries, need experts to provide advice and


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):79-82 (2016)

From a copy shown at the Institute for Catalan Studies, Barcelona

Guerrero, Mas-Colell

Catalan Atlas of the Mediterranean, by Abraham Cresques. Abraham Cresques (1325–1387) was a 14th-century Jewish cartographer from the city of Palma Majorca. (The Balearic Islands were in that time part of the Crown of Aragon.) In collaboration with his son, Jehuda, Abraham Cresques is credited with the authorship of the celebrated Atlas, made circa 1375. The original of the Atlas is in the National Library of France, in Paris. Since 2014, a copy facsimile, on parchment and illustrated by hand, is exposed at the Sala Puig i Cadafalch of the Institute for Catalan Studies, in Barcelona, where the AE-BKH is located.

The final decision, that had to be approved by the Academia Europaea, was taken after the visit of its representatives, Lars Walloe (President), Roger Elliot (Treasurer) and David Coates (Executive Secretary), invited by the three institutions that would become partners: the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Council and the Foundation La Caixa. The visit, which followed a ceremonial agenda, was crucial to determine the suitability of Barcelona as the new headquarters hub. The Barcelona Knowledge Hub was established in 2013 through a joint agreement between the Academia Europaea and the three aforementioned partners in Catalonia, it being set up as the Academia Europaea’s office for the Mediterranean and Southern Europe region. The AE-BKH focuses on the promotion of activities of interest for the members of Academy and the scientific community in general, with special emphasis on multidisciplinary scientific activities that include the perspectives of the natural, biomedical and social sciences and the humanities. The AE-BKH has an International Advisory Committee (IAC) that meets annually. Currently the IAC is formed by Enric Banda, Pedro García-Barreno,  M. Dolores Garcia Ramon,  Ramon Gomis,  Sergiu Hart,  Yvon Le Maho,  Genoveva

Martí, Marc Mayer Olivé, Maria Paradiso, Regina Revilla, and Rosalia Vargas. We will never forget an initial member of the IAC, Prof. Jose Mariano Gago (1948–1915). Gago, former Minister of Science and Technology (1995–2002) and Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education (2005–2011) of Portugal, played a crucial role in the design of plans for the development of science, technology and innovation, not only in his country but throughout Europe. He did it by designing and promoting several organisms that have played major roles in the structure and organization of science in the European Union during the last thirty years, particularly in the creation and initial impulse of the Academia Europaea, the European Science Foundation and the European Research Council.

About the Disputatio of Barcelona In the scholastic system of education of the Middle Ages, the Disputationes were formal ordered debates designed to uncover and establish truths in theology and in sciences. Fixed rules governed the process: they demanded dependence on traditional written authorities and the thorough understand81

CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):79-82 (2016)


Foreword/Presentation of the issue

The Academia Europaea-Barcelona Knowledge Hub is located in the building of the Institute for Catalan Studies, in Barcelona.

ing of each argument on each side. The famous Disputatio of Barcelona, called in the summer of 1263 by King James I of Aragon and Catalonia, was the most important and wellknown of the inter-faith Disputationes that took place between Christian and Jewish theologians in the late Middle Ages. In the Disputatio of Barcelona the disputantes were Friar Paulus Christianus, a Dominican (and a former rabbi converted from Judaism to Christianity) and rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (also known as Nahmanides), the most important scholar of Judaism at his time, from the Girona’s community. The discussion focused on theological questions with the presence of the king and his court, and of the most significant men of Barcelona, then a prosperous and influent city. Since its creation, the AE-BKH has developed four Disputationes, in 2013 (coinciding with the commemoration of the 750th anniversary of the medieval Disputatio of Barcelona), in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The success achieved in those editions is the best cultural manifestation of AE-BKH and consequently continuing them has been considered most suitable.

ence of senior researchers and the real possibilities of younger generations are the guarantee for the future. The������������ ����������� Young Academy of Europe (YAE) was created to respond to this need. It was born as a pan-European initiative of outstanding young scientists to create a platform for networking, scientific exchange and science policy. The AE and the YAE signed an agreement in December 2012, establishing that “both organizations shall actively explore the potential for, and development of, a wide range of initiatives and activities, that would provide for a mutual benefit to both organizations and to the wider scholars’ community across Europe.” The AE-BKH is responsible for giving the necessary administrative support to the YAE and collaborating in the YAE’s Interviews Project. Several major issues affect the activity and objectives of the AE-BKH, the main being (a) attention to global social problems (displacement by conflict, migration, poverty, scientific development), (b) promotion of the women in all aspects of BKH organization, activities and development in all activities and in the area of influence of the hub, (c) interdisciplinarity in the treatment of the discussed topics, (d) collaboration with the related entities both national and international, and (e) involvement in the expansion and dissemination of the Young Academy of Europe. To conclude, the Barcelona Knowledge Hub has tried to make a significant contribution to the aims and activities of the whole Academia Europaea, especially those related with Southern Europe and the Mediterranean.

About the Young Academy of Europe Institutions devoted to all fields of knowledge are committed to defending the planet. Leaders must continually remind of it both to governments and the citizenship. The younger generations have much to do about it. The combination of the experi-

About the images on the first page of the articles in this issue. Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science, devoted to the activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH), show in their first page a reproduction of a trencadís, a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism, made from broken pieces of ceramics, like tiles and dinnerware. Those nine “broken tiles,” designed by the architect from Reus Antoni Gaudí, show multiple angles and views, reflecting the ever-changing reality around us. The AE-BKH believes that those images, created more than a century ago, represent appropriately the multiple aspects of the present academic world, both in science and humanities, which constitute one of the main objectives of the activities of the Barcelona hub. See also the article “Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus,” by R. Gomis and K. Katte, on pages 145-149 of this issue. This issue can be downloaded in ISSUU format and individual articles can be found at the journals’ repository of the Institute for Catalan Studies [;].


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):79-82 (2016)

ACTIVITIES OF THE AE-BKH Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Catalonia


CONTRIB SCI 12(2):83-91(2016) doi:10.2436/20.7010.01.248

The AE-BKH Disputatio of Barcelona, 2013–2016 Genoveva Martí,1 Mara Dierssen,2 Thomas Pogge3 1 Professor ICREA, Department of Philosophy, University of Barcelona, Barcelona. Systems Biology Program, Center for Genomic Regulation, University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. 3 Department of Philosophy, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Trencadís (“broken tiles”) by Antoni Gaudí


Summary. The Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AEBKH)was set up in Barcelona in 2013 as the office for the Southern European region and the Mediterranean. The Academia Europaea is a pan-European, nongovernmental, not-for-profit association of over 4000 individual scientists and scholars who are recognized as experts and leaders in their own fields. It is committed to identifying topics of trans-European importance to science and scholarship, and provides, where appropriate, its expertise and its independent and impartial advice to European institutions, governments and international agencies concerning matters affecting science, scholarship and academic life in Europe. The AE-BKH organizes multidisciplinary activities that consider the perspective of the social sciences and the humanities, with scholarly aims as well as the goal of promoting the dissemination of science. One of the very special activities of the AE-BKH is the celebration of the present-day Disputatio of Barcelona as a remembrance of the original Disputatio of Barcelona held in 1263.Until present, four moder-day Disputationes have been held, from 2013 until 2016 [Contrib Sci 12(2):83-91 (2016)] Keywords: Barcelona Knowledge Hub · Academia Europaea · Disputatio of Barcelona Correspondence: Genoveva Martí E-mail:

The Academia Europaea, promoting learning, education and research The Academia Europaea (AE), founded in 1988, is a pan-European, nongovernmental, not-for-profit association of individual scientists and scholars who are elected by nomination

and recognized by their peers as experts and leaders in their fields. The AE is independent of national governments and government-controlled sources of finance. Its main object is to support the culture of European research through dialogue and collaboration. In its mission statement, the AE is committed to identifying topics of trans-European importance to science and scholarship, and to proposing appropriate action to ensure

This article is based on three previously published articles in the journal Contributions to Science of the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC) in 2014: G. Martí, Contrib Sci 10(1):17-22, T. Pogge, Contrib Sci 10(1):23-28, and M. Dierssen Contrib Sci 10(1):29-34. ISSN (print): 1575-6343 e-ISSN: 2013-410X

CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):83-91 (2016)

Disputatio of Barcelona 2013-2016


and the capital of the Union for the Mediterranean. Thus, the AE-BKH contributes towards the consolidation of the city’s international position. This explains the decision by the Catalan Government (Ministry of Economy and Knowledge), the Barcelona City Council and the “la Caixa” Foundation to join efforts to launch an AE hub in Barcelona. The AE-BKH is housed on the premises of the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC) (Fig.1). One of its main objectives is to organize multidisciplinary activities that include the perspective of the social sciences and the humanities in the southern European region, with scholarly aims and for the dissemination of science.

Fig. 1. The AE-BKH is housed on the the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC).

The Disputationes of Barcelona The BKH’s inaugural event was celebrated in November 2013 as a commemoration of the 750th anniversary of the Disputatio of Barcelona, by holding its own, present-day Disputatio of Barcelona (Fig. 2). The first Disputatio of Barcelona was held in 1263 before King James I of Aragon; it was one of the inter-faith debates that took place between Christian and Jewish theologians. On that occasion, the debaters were Pau Cristià, a convert from Judaism and a Dominican friar, and Rabbi Moses ben Nahman (also known as Nahmanides; his Catalan name was Bonastruc ça Porta), a Catalan Sephardic rabbi, physician, philosopher, kabbalist and biblical commentator. In the scholastic system of education of the Middle Ages, the Disputationes offered a formalized method of debate designed to uncover and establish truths in theology and the sciences. Fixed rules governed the process: they demanded dependence on traditional written authorities and a thorough understanding of the argument made by each side. The 2013 Disputatio of Barcelona, with the title “Social and State-of-the-Art Medicine,” took place on November 28th in the historical Main Hall (Saló de Cent) of the Barcelona City Hall, before over two hundred members of the local scientific, intellectual community. The event was hosted by

that these topics are adequately addressed. It promotes a wider appreciation of the value of European scholarship and of research and encourages interdisciplinary and international scholarship in all areas of learning of relevance to Europe. In addition, where appropriate to its expertise, it provides independent and impartial advice to European institutions, governments and international agencies concerning matters affecting science, scholarship and academic life in Europe.

The AE-Barcelona Knowledge Hub: the Southern European and Mediterranean Office

Contrib Sci

In 2013, the AE-BKH was established in Barcelona as the office for the Southern European region and the Mediterranean. Barcelona has a strong academic and scientific environment, with important centres for biomedicine and photonics. In addition, the city is one of the main Euro-Mediterranean centres

Fig. 2. Panoramic view of the Disputatio of Barcelona 2013, held in the Saló de Cent of the Barcelona City Hall.


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):83-91 (2016)

Contrib Sci

Martí et al.

Fig. 3. From left to right: Genoveva Martí (Academic Director of the Barcelona Knoledge Hub), Lars Walløe (President of the Academia Europaea), Xavier Trias (Mayor of Barcelona), Mara Dierssen and Thomas Pogge (disputantes), Anne Buttimer (Vice-President of the Academia Europaea) and Andreu Mas-Colell (Minister of Economy and Knowledge of the Government of Catalonia), at the Disputatio of Barcelona 2013.

Xavier Trias (at that time Mayor of Barcelona), who was joined at the presidential table by Lars Walloe and Anne Buttimer (former President and Vice-President of the AE, respectively), Andreu Mas-Colell (at that time Minister of Economy and Knowledge of the Catalan Government) and the by Genoveva Martí (at that time the academic director of the AE-BKH). Two speakers with expertise in different areas were invited to share their views on the access to medical resources and their distribution (Fig. 3). In keeping with the AE-BKH’s intent to approach issues from a multidisciplinary perspective, the invited disputantes were Mara Dierssen, a neuroscientist, group leader of Cellular and Systems Neurobiology of the Systems Biology Programme at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, and president of the Spanish Society for Neuroscience, and Thomas Pogge, a philosopher, president of the Health Impact Fund, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, director of the Global Justice Program and Board Member of Academics Stand Against Poverty. The success of the event inspired the advisory board of the BKH to continue holding Disputationes as the main annual event of the BKH. The 2014 Disputatio of Barcelona was organized in

junction with the United Nations University. It was held in November 2014, on the premises of the Hospital de Sant Pau of Barcelona, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, under the title “The Mediterranean, bridge of cultures”. The 2014 disputantes were Maria Paradiso, Full Professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Sannio, Italy, and Enric Banda, at that time Director of Science and Environment at the “la Caixa” Foundation The 2015 Disputatio of Barcelona was held on December 2015 at the Gothic Royal Chapel of St. Agatha, viewing the famous Epiphany altarpiece by Jaume Huguet (1412−1492) with the title of “Natural vs. Artificial Intelligence”. The disputantes, again a woman and a man, were Núria Sebastián, vicepresident of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council and leader of the SAP Research Group (Speech Acquisition and Perception) at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and Ulises Cortés, Full Professor and researcher of the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). The 2016 Disputatio of Barcelona has been the last one. It was held on November 2016 at the premises of the Generalitat de Catalunya (a Gothic building from the 14th century) after a protocolary reception with Mr. Carles Puigdemont, President of the Catalan Government. The topic for 85

CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):83-91 (2016)

Disputatio of Barcelona 2013-2016

The Disputatio of Barcelona 2013: Social and State-of-the-Art Medicine

Contrib Sci

Human progress has two interlinked components: innovation (i.e., creation, invention, and discovery), and diffusion (i.e., the dissemination and uptake of knowledge). In the realm of human healthcare and drug discovery, innovative products can be defined as those that cure or prevent a disease or condition, decrease mortality or morbidity, decrease the cost of care, improve the quality of life, are safer or easier to use, or improve patient compliance and persistence.

Genoveva Martí

Presentation by Mara Dierssen: Producing Progress? Issues to consider

Genoveva Martí graduated from the University of Barcelona and obtained her PhD from Stanford University. She is Research Professor of ICREA (Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies) at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Barcelona. Before moving to Barcelona she was Reader at the London School of Economics. She taught also at the University of Washington, Seattle and the University of California, Riverside. In 2014–15 she was Professor of Philosophy at Western University in Canada. Since 2009 she is a member of the Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies Section of the AE and was elected to the section committee in 2015. She is a member of the LOGOS research group. Her research interests include the theory of reference, the semantics of singular and general terms, and the role of experimental data in semantics. She was awarded the Narcís Monturiol Medal by the Government of Catalonia in 2012.

Pharmaceutical innovation In recent years, there has been a decrease in the number of molecular entities or biological license applications that have been approved. Why is this? In the USA, one important reason is that the FDA’s approval process, driven by extreme caution, is extremely long (10−15 years from the discovery to the final approval). The January 2013 issue of The Economist contained an article with the title “Has the ideas machine broke down?” The argument was that entrepreneurs are not leading new, fundamental discoveries, but are simply profiting from knowledge coming from academia, from publicly funded research: “Almost no entrepreneurs discover things fundamentally new, at least while working on their own nickel. Rather, in the words of Isaac Newton, they stood on the shoulders of giants. In this case, the giants were those scientists and engineers funded by society, through taxpayer largess, that created the building blocks that led to many of the technological breakthroughs we have today.”

the Disputatio was “Natural Life vs. Synthetic Life”, and the disputantes, as always, a man and a woman, were Anna Veiga (UPF), former director of In Vitro Fertilization Laboratory of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproduction Service Reproductive Medicine at the Dexeus University Institute and former Chair of the Special Interest Group on Stem Cell, and Ricard Solé, ICREA research professor and head of the Complex Systems Lab, located at the PRBB (Biomedical Research Park).

The new science of personalized medicine and the genomic era Publicly funded research has powered a completely new field of medicine, with a completely new landscape. This knowledge has radically changed the strategies for targeting diseases. Some examples of this new landscape are genomic medicine, the ENCODE project, synthetic biology, and robotics.


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):83-91 (2016)

Martí et al.

Center for Genomic Regulation

Genomic medicine Genomic medicine has provided an abundance of information about the genetic basis of disease, thus providing insight into the physiopathology of disease and identifying new therapeutic targets. This knowledge is driving a major change in how medicine is perceived; a revolution is under way, based on personalized genomics and direct-to-consumer genomic services. Genomic medicine is driving a new approach to therapy, based on a new medical model, personalized medicine. This model proposes customizing healthcare via decisions and practices tailored to the individual patient, by exploiting genetic and other relevant information. Consider that, for a single patient group with the same diagnosis and treated with the same medication, there will be responders, non-responders, and those who exhibit signs of increased drug toxicity. Personalized medicine, by tailoring medications based on genetic information, will greatly contribute to optimizing treatment.

Mara Dierssen Mara Dierssen received her degree in medicine (1985) from the University of Cantabria and her PhD (1989) from that university Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. She did her postdoctoral work at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (1990–1993). She was assistant professor at the University of Cantabria (1993–1997), professor of psychophysiology and neurosciences at Ramon Llull University (1997–2006), and senior researcher at the Medical and Molecular Genetics Centre of the Cancer Research Institute (IRO) in Barcelona (1997– 2001). Since 2005, she has been the director of the Associated Unit for Behavioral Research (National Biotechnology Centre-CSIC) and, since 2007, investigator of the Centre for Biomedical Research on Rare Diseases (CIBERER). She belongs to several academic societies and is a member of the executive committee of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS). Dierssen has received numerous awards, including the National Culture Award for Science (2008), the Sisley Lejeune Award (2010), the Alicia Koplowitz Award (2011), the Ramón Trías Fargas Award (2013), and the David and Hillie Mahoney Award (2014). She has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Currently, she is group leader of the Cellular and Systems Neurobiology of the Systems Biology Program at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (2007–) and past-president of the Spanish Society for Neuroscience (2013–2015).

The ENCODE project The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project is a public research consortium that was launched in September 2003 by the US National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to identify all functional elements in the human genome. An achievement of ENCODE has been the recognition that most of the non-coding DNA is involved in the regulation of the expressions of coding DNA, with important effects on health. Synthetic biology Another major discovery that is driving and will drive a change in productivity is the capability of creating new life from inert chemicals. In 2010, Craig Venter and his team at the J. Craig Venter Institute reported the creation of a bacterial chromosome which they used to successfully replace the DNA of a bacterium. Similar new entities will probably be capable of replicating and of evolving into new forms. We must think about the potential uses of future new living organisms. They could be used, for example, for producing new drugs. Robotics Brain-computer and body-computer interfaces that help people with disabilities to be more independent are already available. Computer science has contributed to improving not only the health, but also the social inclusion of the disabled, decreasing the cost of dependency.


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and obesity. In other words, funding from public agencies is mostly devoted to the diseases of developed countries.

Genetics, the environment, and medicine One of the most important discoveries of recent years is that we can shape ourselves, both our brains and our bodies, and that these changes can be passed on to the next generation. This discovery is based on the recognition that there are changes in gene activity and expression that are not dependent on gene sequence; moreover, they are heritable—but not necessarily. The study of those changes is called epigenetics, and the global analysis of epigenetic changes across the entire genome, epigenomics. Epigenomics is one of the fastest emerging scientific fields, promising a huge growth potential by revolutionizing the therapeutics and diagnostics industries in healthcare. The US NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Mapping Consortium was launched as a public resource of human epigenetic data to facilitate disease-oriented research. The study of heritable changes in genome function and gene expression has opened a new gateway in biology, allowing us to understand the basis of diseases, and presents incredible opportunities for disease diagnosis and drug discovery. The epigenomic therapeutic market is expected to explode in the coming years. The problem, however, is that this basic research is lost in translation when it comes to converting findings into real therapeutic advances. The substantial increase in investment in pharmaceutical research has yielded only slight progress, since the new compounds are only marginally better, but much more expensive, than existing ones. Moreover, it has increased the gap between treatment available to the rich vs. the poor. The pharmaceutical industry cannot be the ultimate answer. In fact, the effects of the environment must be taken into account. The environment is a strong determinant of how we develop and function. Genetic susceptibility factors are responsive to environmental ones. Gene-environment interactions make people different, and the consequences of these interactions are in many cases decisive. Given the complexity of how phenotype is determined, how powerful or useful will the delineation of an individual’s genome be in predicting disease and in choosing therapy? Our understanding is far from complete; we need more basic science research and knowledge. Investment in science is below what it should be, and we must work to improve this situation. Regarding research in medicine, there are other problems. Consider the aims of EU Horizon 2020—the eighth phase of the Framework Programs of Research and Technological Development, the main targets of which are aging

Innovation distorting economical inequalities Focused innovation is distorted by huge economic inequalities, which steer innovators away from seeking treatment of those diseases predominantly affecting the poor. The map of some disorders, such as malaria, coincides with the map of poverty, and is in direct opposition with the map of drug and pharmaceutical investment. We could appeal to ethical values, to morality. However, from neuroscience we know that power (of any kind) equals reduced morality. Policy proposals with ethical implications or that aim to achieve the egalitarian distribution of benefits and costs may fail. You could argue that we live in a democracy, but from neuroscience we also know that there are no rational voters. The political brain is an emotional brain and people are driven by emotions. Politicians use marketing techniques aimed at holding their traditional voters as well as widening their appeal. However, in designing their campaigns they should take into account voters’ attitudes, by studying how voters’ electoral memory, sense of responsibility, and emotional state are associated with their votes. What do citizens think about when they stand in the polling booths? What is the impact of electoral arrangements on voting and voters’ perceptions of elections? How do voters evaluate government performance? Answers to these questions would help the generation of more coherent systems. Concluding remarks The health systems of most countries perform very poorly in terms of cost-effectiveness, which reduces their societal value. Overall efficiency is greatly diminished by lobbying and deal-making, the patent application process, litigation, wasteful marketing, counterfeiting, and deadweight losses. Adverse disturbances of drug development by the scientific or regulatory environment have detrimental effects on social value. Disruptions in the flow of funding from sales to R&D lead to lower social returns. We need to address not only the drivers of investment in innovation, but also how innovation is done. We need to change the model. The outcome of treatment should be included in an assessment of its value. In other words, payment for pharmaceuticals should be based on performance. We should also improve science funding. And finally, academic knowledge, both theoretical and methodological, should be applied to policy making. 88

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Presentation by Thomas Pogge: The Health Impact Fund, a new paradigm in pharmaceutical innovation

Universal access to pharmaceutical drugs is seriously undermined during the time the product is under patent by large mark-ups. This period has been established after the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) in 20 years. During this long period generic companies cannot work with the active molecule or active principle, so they cannot make the so-named generic drugs which are much more accessible to people because its much lower price. These difficulties for accessing new and cheaper drugs are accompanied by other characteristic of the production of pharmaceutical drugs by large companies—always looking for the higher benefit from the market—, this is the positive bias towards the “rich patient”, i.e. patient with a sufficient economic power to pay the high price of drugs. Pharmaceutical innovators can make the most money by producing drugs against diseases that affect the rich, affluent or well-insured people; they cannot make a lot of money from diseases that are concentrated among the world’s poorest populations. And for that reason, research and development of new med icines focuses away from large and important diseases that affect the poor, such as malaria, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis, and leishmaniasis. An additonal problem with the current system is that most of the money that the world spends on pharmaceuticals (about one trillion US$ every year), does not go back into the manufacture or the research and development of new drugs. Most of the money actually goes to lobbying and gaming, patenting and litigating, wasteful marketing and counterfeiting, as well as to huge deadweight losses, all of which greatly diminishing overall efficiency.

Thomas Pogge Thomas Pogge received his PhD from Harvard University (1983). He is the Director of the Health Impact Fund, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs and Director of the Global Justice Program at Yale. Broadly devoted to moral and political philosophy, and Immanuel Kant, his work has increasingly focused on real-world issues related to justice, poverty and health. On these topics, he has led several major research collaborations (funded by the European Commission, the Australian Research Council and the BUPA Foundation). Pogge’s recent publications include Politics as Usual (Polity 2010), World Poverty and Human Rights (Polity 2008), John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice (Oxford 2007), and Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right (Oxford & UNESCO 2007). Pogge holds secondary appointments at King’s College London and at the universities of Oslo, Sydney and Central Lancashire. He has held visiting appointments at Harvard, Oslo and Princeton Universities as well as at the Princeton Center for Advanced Studies, All Souls College Oxford and the National Institutes of Health. Pogge is also an editor for social and political philosophy for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. In 2013 he won the American Philosophical Association Gregory Kavka Prize in political philosophy. He has received honorary doctorates from the universities of Turku, Bucharest and Connecticut and is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science.

The Health Impact Fund (HIF) The solution on which we work involves the creation of the Health Impact Fund (HIF), which is a complement to the existing TRIPS which would offer to innovators the opportunity to voluntarily register any new medicine. For all of these drugs, the HIF would measure the health gains that they produce in the world, and would then divide the reward pool accordingly (about 6 billion US$ every year). Registrants would be free to keep intellectual property rights, but would be required to sell the new medicine at the lowest feasible average cost of manufacture and distribution


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whose future revenue stream could be scrutinized. Such taxes would also moderate speculative excesses in financial markets or slow climate change. Ultimately, the idea is to create a diversified endowment, managed to generate a stable income stream that would cover a substantial and growing portion of the annual reward pools. The endowment could accept contributions also from international and non-governmental organizations, foundations, corporations, individuals and states—following the example of private universities. And would thereby give everyone an opportunity personally to contribute to the long-term improvement of human health. During 2013, the HIF team received €2 million from the European Union, which will help establish the baseline against which health gains will be measured. The HIF also received a US$ 2 million commitment from Janssen Pharmaceutica, part of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Pharmaceutical Research and Development, involving their new drug against multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis—and the first anti-tuberculosis drug developed in over forty years—Sirturo® (Bedaquiline). J&J will contribute the drug at zero cost, so this pilot will only refine the measurement of health gains and of the preservation of the drug’s efficacy. The drug was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in December 2012, and once it is approved in India, the pilot in Mumbai will start.

and to grant cost-free licenses after the reward period. Pharmaceutical innovators will be able to choose which market to enter: they will be free to stay in the existing system and get rewarded through the high mark-ups they can charge, protected by a patent; or they can give up that reward opportunity, agree to sell their product at cost and then be rewarded on the basis of the health gains. Obviously, different products will choose different tracks. A product that is mainly directed at rich people, such as a hair-loss product with little health gain, would stay on the patenttrack, whereas a product that addresses a need of poor people, such as a malaria drug, would surely choose the HIFtrack, be rewarded according to health impact and sold everywhere at a low price determined by cost. The HIF can solve the three big problems of the status quo: • HIF prevents high prices. All HIF-registered drugs are available at its real cost or even below cost from day one. Poor people can gain access to important new medicines either through their own funds or through governments, NGOs, or international agencies. • HIF also ends the neglect of the diseases of poverty. The HIF adds powerful targeting incentives to develop new drugs with the greatest health impact—regardless of the socioeconomic composition of patient population. • HIF boosts cost-effectiveness. It would reduce costs and losses due to patenting because innovators would not need to patent their drugs in many jurisdictions because nobody would care to compete with them if they offered their products at very low prices. There would be much less litigation and much less need for competitive marketing.

Different fields, but the same problem The same idea that can potentially work really well in pharmaceuticals could be applied in other fields, such as the agricultural and environmental innovation. Agriculture and food production face the same dilemma between innovation and access. Agricultural innovators should have at least the option to agree to the cost-free use of their innovation in exchange for payments from public funds that are based on the measured total impact of their innovation in terms of nutrients produced with given inputs, on methane emissions averted, and on reduction in the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics. Environmental innovation could also benefit from this strategy. It is of great importance to protect the environment because it allows the production of electricity and other goods at much lower cost to the environment. However, many green technologies—such as efficient solar panels or hybrid cars—are patented, and because of high licensing fees, they do not diffuse among poorer populations. Once again, we are wrongly rewarding innovation in a social issue by giving innovators the right to charge high prices, by granting them a temporary monopoly. Green innovators should be

As a bonus, also for rich populations, the HIF would focus the attention of innovators on the health of patients because only if you actually promote the health of patients, do you make money. Under the current system, by contrast, the innovator is rewarded for every prescription of its medicine, regardless of whether it is beneficial to the patient or not. Financing the HIF. The HIF would be funded through governments that are willing to participate in the scheme. Each of them would contribute a sum around 0.03 % of their gross national income (GNI). The investment could be done through long-maturity or perpetual bonds with interest pegged to inflation or GNI per capita. Alternatively, the HIF could be funded through a dedicated international tax, for instance a tax on financial transactions or a tax on pollution,


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given at least the option to agree to the cost-free use of their innovations, in exchange for payments from public funds based on the measured total environmental impact of their innovations, assessed according to a pre-announced metric.

The crucial variable for the ecological sustainability of our planet is the number of human beings who will share its limited resources over the coming millennium. Fertility is the main indicator for what the human population will be like in 2100. Depending on what policies our generation will initiate, the United Nations estimates that there will be between 6 billion and 16 billion people by the end of the century (there are 7.2 billion today). Of course, for ecological reasons, it would be much better if, in 2100, the world’s population was closer to 6 billion than to 16 billion. The best way of achieving that is by overcoming poverty, and one way to do that is by changing the way in which we reward medical, agricultural and environmental innovation.

A final thought Rewarding innovation in the wrong way in the areas of pharmaceuticals, food production, and environmental innovation has especially serious effects on the poor. Poor fall ill more often and more severely, they die earlier, they suffer hunger and malnutrition, and they also suffer more from the effects of climate change, as could be seen in the Philippines with Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. And so, incentivizing innovation in these social areas in the wrong way perpetuates poverty, and poverty, in turn is a key driver of human population growth.

Competing interests. None declared.

About the images on the first page of the articles in this issue. Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science, devoted to the activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH), show in their first page a reproduction of a trencadís, a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism, made from broken pieces of ceramics, like tiles and dinnerware. Those nine “broken tiles,” designed by the architect from Reus Antoni Gaudí, show multiple angles and views, reflecting the ever-changing reality around us. The AE-BKH believes that those images, created more than a century ago, represent appropriately the multiple aspects of the present academic world, both in science and humanities, which constitute one of the main objectives of the activities of the Barcelona hub. See also the article “Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus,” by R. Gomis and K. Katte, on pages 145-149 of this issue. This issue can be downloaded in ISSUU format and individual articles can be found at the journals’ repository of the Institute for Catalan Studies [;].


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ACTIVITIES OF THE AE-BKH Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Catalonia


CONTRIB SCI 12(2):93-98(2016) doi:10.2436/20.7010.01.249

The AE-BKH Women’s Week, 2013–2016 Mercè Piqueras,1 Ricard Guerrero2 Catalan Association for Science Communication (ACCC), Barcelona, Catalonia 2 Academic Director, AE-BKH, Barcelona, Catalonia


Trencadís (“broken tiles”) by Antoni Gaudí

Summary. The article describes the activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH) on the occasion of the BKH-AE Women’s Week, from 2013 to 2016. This Week will be continued in the coming years. Two major changes have revolutionised society and specifically higher education in only one century. Firstly, higher education and scientific research have rapidly expanded throughout the world. Secondly, this exceptional opportunity to promote and strengthen the values of science in the service of humanism, development and peace is partially the consequence of the achievements of women in science. Women have been able to apply their knowledge and skills to many fields of science and humanities, and their contributions to progress in all of them have been highly significant. [Contrib Sci 12(2):93-98 (2016)] Keywords: International Women’s Day lectures · AE-BKH Women’s Week · Academia Europaea’s activities · higher education for women · gender equality

Correspondence: Ricard Guerrero E-mail:

Introduction From 2006 to 2012, the Institute for Catalan Studies commemorated the International Women’s Day with a Distinguished Lecture. Since 2013, that celebration has been the responsibility of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Aca-

demia Europaea (AE-BKH) [7,9]. To the Distinguished Lecture, other activities have been added, including a concert, a workshop and a visit to a center of special cultural or scientific relevance in Barcelona. Therefore, the activity has been renamed the AE-BKH Women’s Week. The Interna­tional Women’s Day (IWD) first emerged from the activities of female

As Scientific Secretary of the Institute for Catalan Studies, one of the authors, R. Guerrero, commemorated the International Women’s Day from 2006 to 2012. And from 2013 to the present, as Academic Director of the AE-BKH, organised the AE-BKH Women’s Week. This article is based on a previously published article in the journal Contrib Sci 11(1):21-26 (2015). ISSN (print): 1575-6343 e-ISSN: 2013-410X

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Contrib Sci

International Women’s Week

Fig. 1. Celebration of the International Women’s Day at the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea. Lectures by Nadia El-Awady, Egypt, on March 5, 2014 (left), and by Lynn Kamerlin, Sweden, presented by Anna Alberni, Barcelona, on March 4, 2015 (right). Held at the premises of the Institute for Catalan Studies.

to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas [6,9]. Many countries around the world followed the observation of the IWD, in commemoration of the women’s struggles to revindicate their rights, recognizing their social achievements in those struggles and looking ahead to obtain a full and equal participation in society. After World War II, however, the IWD remained a communist celebration until the late 1960s. A group of women at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle commemorated it in 1967. The United Nations (UN) started celebrating the IWD on March 8, 1975, on the occasion of the International Women’s Year. In December 1977, a resolution of the UN General Assembly proclaimed a UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace, which would be observed on any day of the year by Member States, according to their traditions. Nowadays, the IWD is commemorated in more than 100 countries and in some of them, including Russia, it is even an official public holiday [6,9]. Increasingly, IWD is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Accordingly, the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC), always eager to follow international trends and multinational cooperation, celebrated the IWD from 2006 to 2012 by holding a Distinguished Lecture during the week of March 8 (Fig. 1). Female researchers and scholars talked on a great variety of topics, as shown in Table 1. Several lectures related to the IWD given at the IEC have been published in Contributions to Science [2,4,5,8]. From 2013 on, other events have been added to the main lecture (Fig. 2). Therefore, the whole activity has been renamed the AE-BKH Women’s Week.

workers at the start of the 20th century in North America and across Europe. On February 28, 1909, the first Woman’s Day was observed in the United States. The Socialist Party of America proposed this day in honour of the 1908 strike of garment workers in New York, where women protested against working conditions. In 1910, the Socialist International Meeting in Copenhagen established a Women’s Day to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance. As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, IWD was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, and more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job [9]. In 1915, during the first winter and spring of World War I women started to take action by reclaiming their rights as wives, mothers and housekeepers, and the IWD provided the framework for their protests. As part of the peace movement, Russian women first observed IWD the last Sunday in February in 1913. In 1917, against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia held a mass demonstration for “bread and peace” on February 23 (8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar was forced to abdicate, and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. Since those early years, the growing international women’s movement has been strengthened by four global UN women’s conferences and has helped to make the commemoration a rallying point


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Piqueras, Guerrero

Table 1. Events related to the International Women's Day held at the AE-BKH since 2013 to present.

International Women’s Day at the AE-BKH, 2013–2016

2013 March 6th “Two cultures, three cultures, or one only culture?” Dacha Atienza, Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona; Mercè Berlanga, University of Barcelona; and Genoveva Martí, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA). 2014 March 5th

Distinguished lecture: “Arab Spring, or long desolate Arab Winter?” Nadia El-Awadi, Egypt; former president of the World Federation of Science Journalists.

March 6th

“The Earth is our body. Lynn Margulis and Gaia” Convenor: Carmen Chica, editor of the book Once Upon a Time. With the participation of: Isabel Esteve, Marta Estrada, Ricard Guerrero, Juli Peretó, Mercè Piqueras, Anna Omedes, Carme Puche, Joandomènec Ros and Nicole Skinner.

2015 March 4th

InterSection Workshop: “Women and the academic ladder” Convenor: Lynn Kamerlin. With the participations of: Clara Corbella, Margaret Luppino, Maryam Ghafouri, M. Dolors Garcia-Ramon and Lourdes Beneria.

March 5th

Convenor: Anna Alberni, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA). Short film, “In the search of truth. In memory of Lynn Margulis”, comments by director Carme Puche, Barcelona. Distinguished Lecture: “Empowerment of women in the academic world”, by Lynn Kamerlin, University of Uppsala, chair of the Young Academy of Europe (YAE). Concert: “Women’s Sephardic Songs”. By Olga Miracle, soprano, accompanied by Noemí M. Agell and Pere Olivé, string and percussion instruments.

March 6th

Activities in support of the YAE: Visit to the Museu Blau, the new Natural Sciences Museum of Barcelona. Visit guided by Marta Punseti. Visit to the Cercle del Liceu pinacotheque. Visit guided by María Jiménez de Parga.

2016 March 3

Distinguished Lecture: “Women and cultural transmission. The essential role of translation” By Mary Ann Newman. Greater than Life. In remembrance of Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) By Ricard Guerrero. “Lin in Espain. How she stood our Spanish-Catalan accent.” (Documentaries selected by Rubén Duro) and “Symbiotic Earth” by John Feldman, Filmmaker, Hummingbird Films, New York. Concert: Music from Syria and Kurdistan, a Nation without a State. By the Gani Mirzo Band. Neila BenBey (singer), Francesc Puig (clarinet), Juan Jose Barreda (flamenco guitar), and Gani Mirzo (ud, buzuk, composer)

March 4

InterSection Workshop: “Women, migrations and war” Convenor: Mitsi Ito. With the participations of: Mitsi Ito, Maryam Ghafouri, Pere Castaño, Carmen Chica, Salvador Giner. Commemoration of the International Year of Global Understanding by Silvia Pellicer. Art exhibit: Digital art: Photomontage by Teresa Gironès: “The Book of Beasts. Palmira 2015.” Reflections of the dangers of power and the horrors of war. Paintings by Trini Sotos: “Women/Dones/Mujeres.” Reflections and aesthetics of female emotions.


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Contrib Sci

International Women’s Week

Fig. 2. Celebration of the Women’s Week at the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea, on March 5, 2015. Women's Sephardic Songs concert by soprano Olga C. Miracle, Barcelona and Sacramento, California. Held at the premises of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Catalonia.

The role of the AE in promoting women at the upper academic levels

Two major changes have revolutionised society and specifically higher education in only one century. Firstly, higher education and scientific research have rapidly expanded throughout the world. Access to higher education has become a common aspiration, and is no longer perceived as the privilege of social elites. Moreover, higher education is increasingly recognised as a social, economic and political driving force for progress. Nowadays, a larger proportion of humanity aspires to education, and higher education is increasingly regarded as tomorrow’s general education. Secondly, this exceptional opportunity to promote and strengthen the values of science in the service of humanism, development and peace is partially the cause and the consequence of the achievements of women in science. By breaking down earlier social, cultural barriers, women can now apply their knowledge and skills to many fields of science, and their contributions to progress in all of them have been significant. Despite these important gains, women in higher education must still overcome difficult hurdles before being granted the same opportunities as their male peers. There is no real evidence that gender has ceased to stratify opportunities. Many obstacles to women’s equity remain: advancement to the upper rungs of the career ladder is slow, the glass ceiling—a metaphore used to represent an invisible barrier that prevents from reaching upper levels in a hierarchy—still hangs low, and equal work does not yet mean equal salary. Within the top rungs of higher education, women in many countries are greatly underrepresented even though they receive the majority of undergraduate degrees.

On 2 Nov. 2000, UNESCO’s Director General, Dr. Koichiro Matsuura, received Prof. Stig Strömholm, President of the Academia Europaea, and Prof. Enric Banda, Secretary General of the European Science Foundation (ESF). Both visitors expressed their interest in joining UNESCO’s efforts in South East European countries to contribute to the development of the intellectual activities in this region. Director General Matsuura supported this initiative of building upon the region’s unique and diverse cultural identities and its historical close cultural links. The following day, 3 Nov. 2000, another meeting took place between the Permanent Delegates to UNESCO of the following member states: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Romania and Slovenia. The Permanent Delegate of Italy to UNESCO and other delegates agreed on a two-step exercise, with proposals emerging from a scientific expert conference which would need to be examined at a governmental level. As a result of these preliminary discussions, a joint UNESCO-ROSTE/AE/ESF Organizing Committee was set up in order to prepare the expert conference as a first step of the process. The International Conference of Experts on the Reconstruction of Scientific Cooperation in South East Europe took place in Venice, Italy from 24–27 March 2001. It focused on country presentations and reviews of existing collaborations and furthermore on the potential South Eastern European countries to develop cooperation in some strategic fields of research.


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Inequality in STEM higher education

Gender equality to promote scientific and technological excellence

Shortages in the supply of trained professionals in disciplines related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) may weaken the innovation potential of a society [1]. Countries with higher proportions of engineering graduates tend to grow faster than countries with higher proportions of graduates in other disciplines. Moreover, future technical changes will probably be linked to abilities and tasks related to STEM disciplines. Over the years a wide gender gap has persisted at all levels of STEM disciplines throughout the world. Women have made important advances in their participation in higher education, yet they are still underrepresented in these fields. This is even a more acute concern in some regions of the world and at the senior-most levels of academic and professional hierarchies [1]. According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), women still account for a minority of the world’s researchers: 28.4% of the total number of persons employed in R&D. The highest percentages are found in Central Asia (47.1%) and Latin America and the Caribbean (44.3%). Other regional averages for the share of female researchers for 2013 were: Central and Eastern Europe, 39.9%; Arab States, 36.8%; North America and Western Europe, 32.0%; SubSaharan Africa, 30.0%; East Asia and the Pacific, 22.6%; and South and West Asia, 18.9% [Women in Science, UIS Fact Sheet, no. 34, November 2015]. Even though Latin America has a high percentage of female researchers, they are rarely present in the upperstrata of research. For example, while in Brazil 49 percent of researchers are female, only 27 percent of women lead research groups [Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, CNPq, database, 2012]. Ceci and Williams reported in 2011 [3] that, while in Europe women accounted for 45 percent of Ph.D. graduates, they represented only 36 percent of associate professors and a mere 18 percent of full professors. Similarly, in the United States, excluding the humanities, 40 percent of new Ph.D. were women, but they were only 34 percent associate professors and only 19 percent of full professors. In terms of decision making, on average, in 2010 only 15.5% of institutions in the higher education sector were headed by women throughout the European Union, and just 10% of universities had a female rector [Gender in Research and Innovation. Statistics and Indicators. European Commission, Brussels].

A more inclusive workforce is assumed to be more innovative and productive than one which is less so [3]. Having scientists and engineers with diverse backgrounds, interests, and cultures—and male and female—assures better scientific and technological results and the best use of those results. Gender equality is a means to promote scientific and technological excellence rather than just improving opportunities for women. Women who might be interested in STEM but decide not to follow studies in these fields or who decide to change careers because of obstacles, real or perceived, represent a major lost opportunity not only for their own careers but also for society as a whole. Hindering women’s scientific careers deprive societies of human resources, which is detrimental to competitiveness and development [1]. The root causes of gender disparities in STEM must be established through research, which would allow to develop appropriate policy responses. In developing countries, the importance of this issue is being more and more recognized. However, most of the literature related to gender inequalities in STEM and the policies designed to amend them refer to the United States and Europe. [1]

The role of the Academia Europaea While women academic roles in the 21st century have much advanced, persistent inequities beg for new solutions. And it is in this context that institutions such as the Academia Europaea can provide representative, authoritative and independent perspectives to take on these and other social challenges. One of the main objectives of the Academia Europaea, an international, non-governmental and not-for-profit association of scientists and scholars from all disciplines, is to propose appropriate action to ensure that topics of transEuropean importance to science and scholarship are adequately addressed. Thus, the Academia Europaea endeavours to encourage achievement of the highest possible standards in scholarship, research and education. But to do so, it must promote gender equality and facilitate connectivity and networking among all Members of the Academia. One of the activities in 2014 was the invitation to the coauthor of this article, in his quality of the Academic Director of the AE-BKH, to give the inaugural lecture in the International Seminar “Education and Empowerment of Women”, held at 97

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International Women’s Week

the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), at Cantoblanco, Madrid, on September 17-19. The Seminar was organized by the UAM, with the collaboration of the Iranian Embassy in Madrid and the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea. Social improvements in women’s rights have still to alter the nature and structure of institutions at the highest academic level. This, however, should not prevent the Academia Europaea from seeking the full participation of the women’s college-age population, who embody an as yet untapped source of talent for meeting the needs of society, today and in the coming years. To this end, the Academia Europaea must work with governmental institutions and with professional and learned societies to support higher education of women, by fearlessly embracing radical shifts in organizational paradigms. Gender equality must be pursued at all levels of education, including the highest, where the challenges are often the most daunting. The systematic incorporation of gender awareness into the fabric of institutional, departmental, and programmatic efforts is crucial. It is a great challenge for the Academia Europaea and for other high-level educational stakeholders in the continent.

References 1. Castillo R, Grazzi M, Tacsir E (2014) Women in science and technology. What does the literature say? Technical Note No. IDB-TN-637 https:// 2. Cavazza M (2009) Laura Bassi and Giuseppe Veratti: an electric couple during the Enlightenment. Contrib Sci 5:115-128 3. Ceci SJ, Williams WM (2011) Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:3157-3162 4. El-Awadi N (2015) Arab Spring or long desolate Arab Winter? Contrib Sci 11:27-35 5. Jordi C (2010) The European Space Agency Gaia mission: exploring the Galaxy. Contrib Sci 6:11-19 6. Kaplan T (1985) On the origins of International Women’s Day. Feminist Studies 11:163-171 7. Martí G (2014) The Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea. Contrib Sci 10:17-22 8. Piqueras M (2009) Emma Darwin: a great woman behind a great man. Contrib Sci 5:17-23 9. Puche C (2013) The Institute for Catalan Studies and the International Women’s Day, 2006–2013. Contrib Sci 9:107-108

Competing interests. None declared.

About the images on the first page of the articles in this issue. Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science, devoted to the activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH), show in their first page a reproduction of a trencadís, a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism, made from broken pieces of ceramics, like tiles and dinnerware. Those nine “broken tiles,” designed by the architect from Reus Antoni Gaudí, show multiple angles and views, reflecting the ever-changing reality around us. The AE-BKH believes that those images, created more than a century ago, represent appropriately the multiple aspects of the present academic world, both in science and humanities, which constitue one of the main objectives of the activities of the Barcelona hub. See also the article “Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus,” by R. Gomis and K. Katte, on pages 145-149 of this issue. This issue can be downloaded in ISSUU format and individual articles can be found at the journals’ repository of the Institute for Catalan Studies [;].


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DISTINGUISHED LECTURES AT THE AE-BKH Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Catalonia


CONTRIB SCI 12(2):99-107 (2016) doi:10.2436/20.7010.01.250

Arab Spring or long desolate Arab Winter? Nadia El-Awady*

Ex-president of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ). Free-lance journalist, Leeds, UK

Trencadís ("broken tiles") by Antoni Gaudí

Summary. On December 17, 2010, a Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, publicly set himself on fire in protest against the municipality confiscating the cart on which he sold fruits and vegetables. He had been slapped by a female police officer and the municipality refused to accept the complaint that he lodged against her. A series of events followed, leading to revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya and the ouster of their long-standing rulers. Much has happened since then. Tunisia looks like it may be on a road towards democracy. Egypt, on the other hand, seems to be facing a more questionable future. Three years on, she reflects on the current situation in Egypt, how it has affected her, her family, and those around her. The following is meant to be no more than the personal account, reflections, and opinions of one single individual who took part in the Egyptian revolution of 2011. It also includes her shortcomings. In no way is this to be considered a historical account or a political analysis of the events of the past three years. [Contrib Sci 12(2):99-107 (2016)] Keywords: Arab Spring · Mohamed Bouazizi (Tunis, 2010) · Egyptian revolution of 2011 · Khaled Saeed (Alexandria 2010) · Tahrir Square (Cairo)

Correspondence: Nadia El-Awady

Introduction For two months following the day the revolution ended— for it did end that day of February 11, 2011 when Mubarak was ousted—I felt completely incapable of going anywhere near Cairo’s Tahrir Square where so much happened during those 18 fateful days. Getting close to Tahrir would conjure up horrible memories; memories I needed to suppress. It

was only the day after the revolution ended, on February 12, that I allowed myself to process what I had witnessed and experienced for just under a month. Gun shots, tear gas, skies so full of rocks they appeared as if suspended in mid-air, injuries, deaths… How could all that have happened to me, my friends, and my fellow countrymen? I found the experience of putting together this talk very similar to my experience following the revolution. If I came

*This article is based on the lecture given by the author at the Institute for Catalan Studies on 5 March 2014, as the Distinguished Lecture of the Women's Week of 2014. ISSN (print): 1575-6343 e-ISSN: 2013-410X

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too close to it, it conjured up memories I needed to suppress. More than once I considered cancelling this talk. But every time I told myself that ours was a story that needed to be told, no matter how difficult, no matter how traumatizing, no matter how grim. It is difficult to find that point in history where a certain story starts. Anger had been simmering in Egyptian hearts for years. Demonstrations were regularly held; always small, always well controlled by Egypt’s police force. Political activists went into and out of prison the way you put chewing gum into your mouth and then spit it out. That was the only Egypt we ever knew. Sometimes normal Egyptians like me would take notice. Other times we would feel bored of the same old story and just move on with our lives. Things were hard enough as they were for us to worry about other people’s lives. That is exactly what many people believe Mubarak’s regime was banking on: keep the people overwhelmed with finding their daily bread and they will not have the energy or the time to get involved in politics. If that was the plan, it worked for decades. But nearing the end of 2010, too many events came, one after the other, which brought a critical mass of Egyptians to boiling point. There were abundant rumors that Mubarak’s son, Gamal, was planning to run for presidency. Many Egyptians loudly opposed what was referred to as “inheriting” the presidency in Egypt.

in Giza over the construction of a church complex. The government had issued an order to halt its construction.

The short list of facts could be something like this:

January 1, 2011:- Bomb blast killed 21 in a church in Alexandria where Christians had gathered to mark the New Year.

February 2010: Former International Atomic Energy Agency director general Mohammed El-Baradei returned to Egypt and, together with opposition figures and activists, formed a coalition for political change. The coalition found much support among younger Egyptians. June 6, 2010: Khaled Saeed, a 28-year-old man from Alexandria, was arrested on dubious charges of theft and possession of weapons. Witnesses reported that the police beat him to death. The police claim he died from swallowing a packet of hashish. June 10, 2010: We Are All Khaled Saeed Facebook page launched, protesting against Saeed’s death and demanding justice. It rapidly gained hundreds of thousands of followers. The page rapidly turned into an all-out campaign against police brutality and human rights abuses in Egypt. November 24, 2010: Coptic Christians clashed with police

November 28 and December 5, 2010: Egyptian parliamentary elections held. Although, in my opinion, this particular election was not any more fraudulent than so many others before it, it was well covered by social media activists and transgressions were well documented and publicized, helping, again in my opinion, to build a national disgruntlement with Mubarak’s regime. The Muslim Brotherhood failed to win a single seat in this election, even though it held a fifth of the places in the previous parliament. December 17, 2010: In Tunisia, a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire. The municipality had confiscated the cart on which he sold fruits and vegetables. He was slapped by a female police officer and the municipality refused to receive the complaint he lodged against her. He died from his burns several days later. December 24, 2010: Demonstrations started in Tunisia and spread. December 30, 2010: We Are All Khaled Said Facebook page posted the first known mention of an idea to hold protests on Police Day, January 25.

January 14, 2011: Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country. January 25, 2011: Calls for protests gained momentum and apparent public support.

The birth of a revolution My friend Arwa and I had seen all the calls for demonstrations to be held on Police Day but we were very skeptical it would result in anything. We had seen so many similar calls in the previous months and years. They had rarely amounted to little more than a few people gathering on the street. I personally attended many demonstrations in Egypt since I was a university student. I even organized a demonstration while in university. Demonstrations organized by students 100

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within university grounds were usually quite impressive. But they were almost always contained within those walls where they were relatively safe from police harassment. Up until January 25, 2011, I had never personally seen a demonstration outside of a university that involved more than 100 to 200 participants. My friend Arwa and I thought the January 25 demonstration would be like all the others. We went anyways. It was a holiday. We had time on our hands. And you never know. And it was there that we started what will probably prove to be the most momentous event of our lives. On Tuesday, January 25, thousands of people took to the streets of Cairo and marched through its downtown area. I had never seen anything of the sort in Cairo. The demonstrators were just normal people. Besides a small number of flags belonging to the Wafd Party at the beginning of the demonstrations that day, I saw no identifying elements that would say that these people belonged to one organization or party or another. They were just people. Thousands of them. People protesting against police brutality. People protesting for better healthcare. People protesting for a better life. And some starting to chant, “Down with Mubarak!” Arwa and I were elated to see that the Egyptian people had woken up. We could hardly believe it. Clashes happened that first day between the protesters and the police. But by the end of the day the people had taken over Tahrir Square in the center of the city for a brief period of time. Some demonstrations happened the following Wednesday and Thursday. But they were workdays and most people, including myself, went to work those days. I decided that if the spirit continued, I would demonstrate on Friday, the first day of the Egyptian weekend. On Friday, January 28, 2011 many Egyptians died. It was probably one of the most horrific days in recent Egyptian history. It is a day that cannot be wiped from my memory. The police directed gunshots directly at protesters. They drove over them with their trucks. Thousands of people were tear-gassed over and over and over again. Millions of people eventually raided Tahrir Square and the police from thence on receded into one spot in the Ministry of Interior in the downtown area, where clashes continued until February 11. The story of our revolution is one that would take long to tell. Suffice to say that during those 18 days I saw death, injuries, passion, compassion, pain, fear and joy. Many days when I left my father’s home near Tahrir Square, where I was staying at the time to make it easier for me to participate in the revolution, I did not know if I would live to return. My elderly father would say God be with you to his two adult


daughters as they left into the unknown. All he could do was to follow the events on the television set and try to call us every now and then to make sure we were all right. He couldn’t always get through to us. In the beginning of the revolution, the Egyptian government shut down all forms of mobile communication and Internet connectivity. Most other days, it was just impossible to reach anyone in the Tahrir area because mobile networks were overloaded. What I learned during those days was that one’s country is a very precious thing. It can be, in certain circumstances, THE most precious thing. During those 18 days, I knew that we were at a moment in time in which we could potentially create real change. We could make life better for our children and for their children. And for that to happen we were willing to face death. I was asked by international media so many times during the revolution: “If you manage to remove Mubarak, what happens next?” My reply was always, “I don’t know. We have a dictator on our hands. He must be removed. What comes after that will be a very difficult road. But it is a road we must go down if we want our country to eventually be better.”

Post-revolution chaos Perhaps one or two months after the revolution I found myself writing in a Facebook status, “After the cleansing rains, the creepy crawlies come out of their holes.” The revolution was like a cleansing rain for Egypt―or so many of us thought at the time. But it took only a short period of time for more corruption, much of it in the form of intellectually corrupted minds, to appear on the surface. A struggle began over who was going to take control of the country once the army let go, and much of that struggle was a power-struggle over the minds of the Egyptian people. Much happened in Egypt in the three years that followed the revolution. We had constitutional referendums, parlia­ mentary elections, presidential elections, messy and ridiculous parliamentary discussions, the dissolution of parliament, governments appointed, governments removed, court cases held against suspects for killing protesters, against Mubarak, against his Minister of Interior, against his sons, against other members of his government, no one held accountable for protesters’ deaths, civilians thrown into military prisons, virginity checks on female activists sent to prison, protests, deaths, more protests, more deaths, and finally the ouster―with the support of the army―of a democratically elected president. CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):99-107 (2016)

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There is no easy way to explain the complexity of it all. There is no easy way to understand it―if there is a way at all. What I want to talk to you about is what all that meant for an ordinary Egyptian like me. I was left traumatized after the revolution ended. Not in any major way, but what we had taken part in and what we had witnessed, well, it was not easy. Nevertheless, more than traumatized I felt hopeful after the revolution. Our country was going to change for the better. My children would have a better future. Their children would have an even better future. It would take years and years, I knew, but we had started the process and I was proud to have been a part of it. I followed very closely the discussions around the constitutional referendum that was held the following March 19, 2011, just over a month after Mubarak was removed. I was not happy with how some of the discussions were tailored: “Vote yes for the constitutional amendments and you vote yes to stability”; “Vote yes and you vote yes to Islam.” I was a no voter. I wasn’t happy with some of the details in the amendments. I did not believe we should have rushed changes to the constitution. We needed to do this right. How we changed our constitution would set up our country for what was to come. I was among the minority. The majority did vote yes for the constitutional amendments. I was unhappy that it appeared to me that people had voted yes not because they agreed to the details of the amendments but because they wanted to move on with the process and get a parliament and a president in place regardless of the details. We had fought and died for democracy. The vote of the majority would need to be respected. Nevertheless, I felt concern for what was to come. In the months that followed, revolutionaries called for many protests. I took part in none. It was not clear to me what we would stand to gain from such protests. My personal view was that I played my role as a revolutionary from January 25 to February 11. That was something I could do. It was now time for people like me to step aside and to let the politicians take over the process of building our country. I do not understand politics. I also do not have the thick skin needed for politics. At the same time, this political process, I felt, needed stability. I was worried that revolutionaries had become addicted to the adrenaline rush of revolting. I was worried that revolutionaries were not considering tools other than revolting in order to voice their opinions. Protests in the following months, inevitably, resulted in clashes with the police and the military, which inevitably resulted in injuries and deaths. Cairo was becoming more chaotic and unstable

than it normally was. There were many times during those months and the three years that followed when I was not sure whether it was safe to put my children on the school bus to go to school. Clashes sometimes broke out all night in areas where their school bus passes through to reach their school. I have a horrible memory of staying up one night watching the events of a protest unfold on live television. People were getting shot and dying. Tear gas was everywhere. My sister and my best friend both live in the direct area where this was happening. While I had the television on I also had both of them on the phone, learning more about what was happening and making sure they were both safe. I spent the whole night trying to figure out if this was going to be a protest that would settle down by dawn or if it was something that would continue into the following day. My children would have to pass through that area to get to school. In the end, I kept them home with me the following day.

Going back to "normal" life As the politics unfolded in Egypt, we had no choice but to try to go on living our everyday lives. I remember as a young woman I tried to understand how people I knew were able to continue living in Beirut during Lebanon’s 25 years of civil war. They would tell me that they would be sleeping in their homes and there would be gun fights or bombs blasting outside their windows and they would just go back to sleep. In the morning, they would go to work and tip toe over the rubble left by the fights from the previous night. They talked about it as if it was normal. I couldn’t comprehend. I do comprehend now. No matter the situation, humans are given an incredible capacity to move on. During the revolution itself, fear was not my most overwhelming emotion; determination was. From January 25 onwards until today, there have been many occasions when I have been directly exposed to gunfire or tear gas. When I hear gunfire while inside my home, I wake up because of the noise and then I just go back to sleep. The logic is that there is nothing I can do about it now. I know I am safe within my home. I need to sleep because I have work tomorrow. So I sleep. We became accustomed, in Cairo, to having violent demonstrations every Friday for months, even years. Instead of staying home, most Egyptians would just go out and enjoy their weekend; avoiding the areas where demonstrations were happening. We have a good system to know which areas to avoid. Social media play a major role in this. In addition to checking 102

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the news on our television sets, we also check our Twitter and Facebook feeds. A large number of Egyptians use both. Egyptians generally have quite large social networks of friends, acquaintances, and people we follow. When something happens somewhere, we’ll know. We also have traffic apps on our mobile phones that tell us where traffic is seriously held up. Sometimes the apps even tell you why it is held up. By using all this information, many of us are able to live our lives “normally” by avoiding that which is “abnormal”. It can be difficult, with this being the case, to figure out who is living in the real bubble. Is it people like me who try to go on living their lives despite the troubles? Or is it people who are in the midst of the troubles who go on trying to create change in the way they think is best while the rest of the city goes on living their lives? To drive this concept home, I’ll give you a recent example. In November 2013, I had taken my children out for dinner and then to a movie. It was a Friday afternoon and that was our Friday family ritual. On our way home, and as we were driving into my neighborhood, we saw many people standing on the side of the road facing in one direction. They were looking at something I could not see. My eldest daughter was driving. I was teaching her how to drive before she took her driver’s license test. I told her to stop. I opened the window and asked one of the people on the side of the road what was happening. He said there were clashes just ahead and that they had heard gunfire. This was in the direct vicinity of my house. We heard noises. Whether they were gunshots or firecrackers, commonly used in protests to frighten people, we don’t know. I yelled at my daughter, “Get out now and sit in the passenger’s seat!” And I took over the driving. I quickly backed the car into a side street and got to our house using a couple of back streets instead of our normal route. I stopped in front of our apartment building and yelled at the children, “Out! Out! Out! And up to the house! Do not stop until you are inside and stay away from the windows!” I took the car to the garage just a bit further down the street. It was very dangerous to keep a car outside during circumstances like this. Rocks are thrown and windows are broken. Cars are used as shields. Sometimes they are turned over. Other times they are put up in flames. Once I knew my children were safe, it was time for me to try to figure out what was happening. I walked back into one of the larger roads. I saw young men carrying large sticks, chains, and even swords. I stopped one of them and asked what was happening. He told me that the Muslim Brotherhood were demonstrating on the main street and that he and other neighborhood men were trying to stop them from coming into


the neighborhood. I could tell that clashes were happening ahead but I dared not move further. I stayed for a little while, things started to calm down, and I headed home. This was a common scene all over Cairo. There was a rising sense of anti-Brotherhood sentiment among the general population that did not cease with Morsi’s removal. Even if the Brotherhood demonstrations are not violent, many people have very bad feelings towards them and expect violence from them. When demonstrations head into a neighborhood, shops are shut, and many young men in that neighborhood gather together every weapon they own and will sometimes physically clash with the demonstrators in order to prevent them from proceeding further. This situation is even scarier than the more organized clashes that happen between protesters and police. It is impossible to discern who is whom when civilians fight against civilians. It is impossible to tell who started what. People die because other people decide on a whim that they are dangerous and deserve to be stopped. We have been living in a very lawless city.

The removal of Morsi I was in the UK during the summer of 2013. When I’m in Egypt, I watch events unfold through social media and the television set. Every now and then, I unwillingly become part of an event myself, such as the one I just described. When I’m away from Egypt, I follow the events through social media and television. The only difference is that I cannot personally and physically end up being part of an unfolding event. The same does not apply to my family members and friends still in Egypt. On June 30, 2013, I was horrified as I watched millions of Egyptians take to the streets, demanding that President Morsi be removed. During the run-up to the June 30 protests, I was using social media to do everything in my power to persuade friends and followers that trying to remove a democratically elected president by force was only going to make matters worse for our country. June 30 protesters had legitimate grievances. President Morsi had given himself constitutional powers that a very large number of people did not agree with. Very large numbers of Egyptians protested against this when it happened. Morsi had appointed consultants who were leaving him one after the other because he was not listening to their consultations. In some cases he was not even consulting them. In June 2013, Morsi appointed Islamist allies in 13 of Egypt’s 27 governorates. The appointed governor of Luxor once belonged to an Islamist group that CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):99-107 (2016)

Arab Spring

was linked to the massacre of tourists in Luxor in 1997. There was talk about the Brotherhood-led government rearranging the boundaries of electorates in a way that would give Brotherhood members a stronger chance of winning in future elections. The Egyptian people had legitimate reason to be concerned. In my opinion, they had legitimate reason to want to remove Morsi. The question was: What was the best way to go about this for the country? It is important to note that there is another side to the story. Even though Morsi was president, he had virtually no control over the police, the army, or the judiciary. In his speeches, he frequently mentioned, much to the amusement of many Egyptians, conspiracies that were happening behind the scenes to remove him. None of us doubted this to be the case. What Egyptians have referred to as “the deep state” from Mubarak’s time continued to thrive. We knew this. We knew we had only managed to remove the head of that regime. We had not even managed to bring him properly to justice. “The deep state” would surely be strategically planning ways to oust Morsi or anyone else who might have been in his place and retake power. Morsi and the Brotherhood-led government found themselves in an almost impossible situation. Anyone else elected to the presidency would have found themselves in the same position. Morsi’s reaction was to turn inward to the Brotherhood that he knew and trusted. In my view, one of his biggest mistakes was not that he gave himself constitutional powers, that he mistrusted his consultants and that he appointed Islamist allies as governors. Morsi’s biggest mistake was his lack of transparency with the Egyptian people. Had he, in one of his many very long public speeches, plainly explained the obstacles that were being placed in his path in order to create a stable Egypt, he might have had more support from those that really mattered: the Egyptian people. But there was no transparency. Morsi simply did in his speeches what so many Egyptians commonly do when they are sitting over coffee and talking. He talked generally and vaguely about information that had reached him that certain people were making plans against him. In one speech he laughably named the names of some thugs in some neighborhoods in Cairo who were creating havoc. Instead of telling the Egyptian people about the specific problems he faced with the police, the army, and the judiciary, he continuously made public statements supporting them and raising them on a pedestal. Clearly his strategy was to win them over this way. But it wasn’t working and his hands were tied. So much so that when protests happened just outside the presidential palace at one point during his presidency,

he was unable to depend on the protection of the police; the result being calls from the Brotherhood to their members to protect the palace and the president themselves. This resulted in very bloody and deadly clashes between protesters and Brotherhood members. Morsi and the Brotherhood handled the entirety of the political situation horribly. In my view, their lack of public transparency was their downfall. So many revolutionaries were furious; opposition parties were furious; Egyptians were furious, and, understandably, the not insignificant number of Egyptians who were pro-Mubarak and/or anti-Brotherhood saw this as their chance to remove their opponent.

Shortages and domestic problems In the run-up to the June 30 protests, for weeks, there had been gasoline shortages and electricity cuts. Gasoline shortages meant that vehicles would stand for hours in long lines in front of gas stations for when gas actually did become available. Not only did this mean that people had to take days off of work to make sure their cars had fuel, or that taxi drivers lost income because they had to frequently lose a day of work to get fuel, but it also meant that the streets of Cairo were bottlenecked at gas stations in so many places that movement on the city’s streets had virtually come to a standstill in some places. As for the electricity cuts, it meant that people could not use air conditioners in the hot summer months of Cairo; that families were sitting in the dark for hours and, more importantly, for many, it meant there was no running water because so many apartment buildings depend on electric water pumps to pump water up to their apartments or to water tanks on the tops of buildings. Egyptians were never given logical explanations as to why we had these severe gasoline shortages and electricity cuts. I suspect, as do many others, that it was part of a plan to make life hell for Egyptians so that they would blame Morsi and his government thus expediting his removal. Life was, indeed, hell. The lack of transparency on behalf of Morsi and his government made people even angrier. He may very well have been trying to manage the situation behind the scenes, but Egyptians felt they deserved an explanation; one that made sense. People wanted the man gone. By force if need be. It worked with Mubarak. It should work with Morsi. The difference, though, in my opinion, was that Mubarak was a 30-year-long dictator who was not really chosen by the people. Morsi, on the other hand, came into power as a result of a revolution followed by democratic elections. He had only 104

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been in power for one year. For so many people he was not the best choice; he was the only choice. His opponent in the presidential elections was a former Mubarak minister. Do you choose a former Mubarak man or a Muslim Brotherhood man? It was like choosing between two evils for so many people. Even so, there was a significant portion of the population who chose Morsi because they truly supported him and the Muslim Brotherhood. I told friends and followers through social media to think things through. What happens if you forcibly remove Morsi? Then what? Who takes over? It will be the army. Are we in a position to trust the army more than we trust Morsi? Will they not give themselves even more powers than Morsi gave himself? How will they leave for us to get someone else in their place? Can we trust that person when he comes? Will he do any better than Morsi has done? Then, if the Brotherhood is forcibly removed, will they not be turned into victims? They will be pursued and will get sympathy. As someone who did not approve of the Brotherhood’s handling of the country (or their own organization for that matter), I was willing to wait for their term to end and to hold democratic elections afterwards to bring someone else in. The Brotherhood was shooting herself in the foot. They were proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they did not have the necessary competence to govern our country. That would mean that there was a good chance they would not succeed in the next elections. If they were forcibly removed, I believed, they could regain some public sympathy because they would become victims. We needed to give democracy a chance, I believed. As a people, there was a need for us to look into the future and calculate the results of the actions we took. We needed to figure out what was best for the country in the long run, not in the next few days, weeks or years. I was not, of course, the only one who thought this way. Many of my revolutionary friends thought the same. But too many Egyptians did not, including many revolutionaries. They wanted Morsi gone. They trusted the army once so they believed they could trust them again. They wanted the country to have stability. I watched, horrified, from my TV set in the UK and from my computer screen as millions of people took to the streets on June 30, 2013. Every indication was that they were supported whole-heartedly by the army. I was terrified by what this all meant for the future of my country and for what I felt was our newfound democracy, however stunted it may have been. The short story we all know is that Morsi was removed from power and the military took charge of the country. On the ground, Egyptians were divided. Social media was rife


with people posing views and counter-views. Arguments ensued. People felt so strongly about their opinions of what had happened and what needed to happen that they were losing friends. People were falling out with their own mothers, fathers and siblings. The Brotherhood then began huge sit-ins in two parts of Cairo that caused much disruption to normal life and to traffic. As I watched the events unfold, my concerns for my family in Cairo grew. My children joined me in the UK mid-June, some 15 days before the June 30 protests. Having them with me safe in the UK was a huge relief. But my sister, a singlemother-of-one, was living alone in Cairo with her daughter within walking distance from one of the two Brotherhood sit-ins. Because of her location near the center of Cairo, she had already been witness to almost daily troubles. The city generally was becoming very unsafe. Burglaries were on the rise. There were many reports about people being held up by gunpoint while in their cars on a major throughway in Cairo to give up the money and valuables they had with them. One of my former work colleagues had a sister (a mother of one teenaged daughter) who was shot in the head while she was driving through a crowded part of Cairo just so they could steal the money she had in her car. My sister wrote a Facebook status in July saying she was crossing the street in front of her house when two men on a motorcycle swept by, the one in the back pointing a gun somewhere behind him. Expectations, rumors and even army threats all pointed to the fact that the Brotherhood sitins were going to be violently dispersed. One day my sister told me of protests that had reached her street. Cars were overturned and set on fire. Her car was among the lucky few that were spared. My sister was due to visit me in the UK for a short time that summer. My brothers (who live in the USA) and I told her to change her plans and come earlier. We were not happy with her being alone in Cairo in that neighborhood at such a deadly time. She arrived with her daughter to the UK on July 11. On August 14, the army and police invaded the Brotherhood sit-ins and hundreds, if not more, were violently killed. My sister and I followed the event from the UK in horror. A former work colleague of mine, one of the most gentle and kind men one could ever know, was killed. Almost every friend I knew had a friend or a family member who died. It wasn’t only Brotherhood members who were in these sit-ins. Many people who were against the forceful removal of a democratically elected president, whether they supported him personally or not, were regularly visiting the sit-ins as well. My sister and I spent the day crying almost uncontrollably. CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):99-107 (2016)

Arab Spring

What was more hurtful, possibly, than the fact that so many people were getting killed, was the fact that we were seeing so many Egyptians supporting the violent dispersal. Things like “They are getting what they deserve!” were being said by a significant number of people. Some people were visibly happy that the sit-ins were being dispersed in this manner. Some people were even celebrating. For me, my sister, and for so many others, the killings were one thing. The celebrations of those killings by fellow Egyptians was another thing altogether.

About the author Nadia El-Awady is a freelance journalist and novice adventurer currently based between Egypt and the UK. The major part of her career has focused on science journalism. She has a BSc in medicine from Cairo University and an MA in journalism and mass communication from the American University in Cairo. Nadia is a scuba diver―she has just recently received certification as a diving instructor—, an avid hiker, and a newbie cyclist. She has four beautiful children, the eldest of whom is already in university. She has no idea how they grew up so quickly.

Unfulfilled dreams and new life We were heartbroken by our own countrymen. We felt helpless. We lost trust in the people of our country to think and to act like human beings. We felt very insecure. My family immediately got together to send my sister and her daughter to live with my brothers in the USA. The situation in Egypt had created a sense of intense anxiety among us. We needed to know that my sister and my niece would be safe. Even though she had no home in the USA, no work and no definite prospect of work there, she and her daughter left the UK to the USA. It has been and continues to be a difficult journey for my sister, but she has the help and support of our family to make things work. And she is gradually establishing herself in a new country. When I married my husband Colin, at the end of 2011― the year of the revolution―, our plan was that he would move to Cairo. Even though the situation in Egypt was not the best, we all still had hope that with time Egypt would prosper. As the weeks and months went by, it became clear that Egypt was moving towards an instability that would make life for Colin there very difficult. We had political insecurity, the general security situation was worsening each day and we had economic instability. How could I ask my husband to leave the secure job, home and life he had in his country to come to a completely insecure Egypt? The result has been that Colin continues to live in the UK. I have spent the first two years of our marriage travelling back and forth between my children in Egypt and my husband in the UK. I have had to give up my work to do this. My children now travel back and forth between the two countries as well. Because they are older, it has proven almost impossible for us to consider taking them out of their schools in Egypt to put them in schools in the UK. My eldest is already in university. There is no way I or their father could afford sending any of them to a university in England. My other children are in their

Fig.1. Nadia El-Awady.

final years of education. Switching the educational systems would probably mean losing a year or two of education for them. And even if we did that, how would we manage to give them a university education in the UK, something both their parents believe they deserve to have? So I feel as if my children are stuck in that country. And I am stuck in limbo between countries. Many of my friends have been leaving Egypt in the past year. A few of them worked for Aljazeera, which has been accused―wrongly or rightly―of working too closely with the Brotherhood. From my personal point of view and from what I have seen, Aljazeera was the only channel I could turn to if I wanted to know the Brotherhood perspective on events in Egypt. I was also able to get other perspectives on events from 106

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Aljazeera. I had become unable, however, to get Brotherhood perspectives on any other channel. Journalist friends who worked with Aljazeera were threatened. The apartment of a friend of mine who was a journalist at Aljazeera was burned down twice by thugs. Luckily neither he nor his family was in the apartment at the time. He and many Aljazeera journalists have chosen to go live in Qatar. Other Aljazeera journalists have been thrown in jail in Egypt. One of my friends left Egypt after his brother-in-law was killed in the Brotherhood sit-in. He could not bear the way Egyptians were treating their own countrymen. Many other friends have left Egypt because they feel hopeless. They risked so much for their country to be better and now, not only is it getting worse, it seems there is significant public support for military rule. Yet others have left because they want to live somewhere they can have better security and education for their children. Egyptians are now very divided after having been very unified only three years earlier. One group talks about the need for Egyptians to be ruled with an iron hand. Another group talks about the need for democracy with all the instability it may bring. All indications are that the current head of Egypt’s military, General Al-Sisi, will run for presidency and will win. He has a huge public even cult-like following. To people like me, it seems like the main focus of many Egyptians is on the food in their bellies and the hope of a relatively stable country. How the country is run, whether we have a democracy or a dictatorship, whether human rights are upheld, does not really make much of a difference as long as none of it affects the way they go about their daily lives. In the meantime, as we speak, my children’s mid-term holidays have been extended from being only two weeks long to being a month-and-a-half long. The government has

probably been postponing sending students back to schools and universities in order to prevent students from organizing protests. The real result, though, is that my children are not getting the education that they deserve. Our prognosis as a country seems very grim. We are looking down a gun barrel at military rule. The main issues that our country faces, those same issues that led to a revolution, remain and have even become worse. Police brutality is rampant; justice is hard to come by; security on the ground is bad; the economic situation is crumbling; corruption is widespread; healthcare is in the dumps; education needs a complete revamp; human rights and freedoms are severely lacking; press freedoms are almost non-existent. For someone like me, it almost feels like there is no hope, and that there is nothing that I can do to change things. Egyptian society is so divided at this stage that it seems impossible for people to come together again to create change. Nevertheless, my friends and I continue to give each other pep talks through social media. Things are bad now, we say, but we can work little by little to make them better. We need to create awareness. That takes years. We need to put in the time and the effort. So we go on living our lives, mainly frustrated with how things turned out, and trying very, very hard to be hopeful that we can somehow change things around. Perhaps not now. Perhaps our children will create a more permanent change. For now, we have a story to tell of an unfulfilled revolution. We have lessons learned and others that we still need to learn. We have memories, good and bad, and we have personal lives to build. And we have a country that needs saving. However that might be, whenever it might be, it will happen, in our lifetime or in someone else’s. Competing interests. None declared.

About the images on the first page of the articles in this issue. Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science, devoted to the activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH), show in their first page a reproduction of a trencadís, a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism, made from broken pieces of ceramics, like tiles and dinnerware. Those nine “broken tiles,” designed by the architect from Reus Antoni Gaudí, show multiple angles and views, reflecting the ever-changing reality around us. The AE-BKH believes that those images, created more than a century ago, represent appropriately the multiple aspects of the present academic world, both in science and humanities, which constitute one of the main objectives of the activities of the Barcelona hub. See also the article “Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus,” by R. Gomis and K. Katte, on pages 145-149 of this issue. This issue can be downloaded in ISSUU format and individual articles can be found at the journals’ repository of the Institute for Catalan Studies [;].


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):99-107 (2016)

DISTINGUISHED LECTURES AT THE AE-BKH Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Catalonia


CONTRIB SCI 12(2):109-115 (2016) doi:10.2436/20.7010.01.251

Migrations of meaning: Women, translation, visibility, invisibility Mary Ann Newman Ferragut Fund for Catalan Culture at the US, New York, NY, USA

Trencadís (“broken tiles”) by Antoni Gaudí

Summary. All speech, indeed, all thought, is a translation of the impressions and sensations we seek to transmit. Intralingual translation is generally unconscious; interlingual translation is a conscious act, marked by vulnerability. Translation is always imperfect, as there are no perfect equivalencies, but its depiction as traitorous is based in semi-religious interpretation. In fiction it often reflects political and sexual barriers to be crossed. In practice, it engages power, between majority and lesser-known languages, and it gives access to power. Finally, it is a gendered act, in which the translator, required to be invisible, brings the unseen to the surface. [Contrib Sci 12(2):109-115 (2016)] Keywords: language · meaning · translation · interpretation

Correspondence: Mary Ann Newman;

I am here as a translator, and more particularly, as a translator of Catalan literature. My discussion takes off, then, from a specific experience of cultural migration, that of a tightrope walker who teeters with a pole on a wire above the abyss of language. But I would like to start by saying that we are all translators. To quote Domenico Jervolino: “To speak

is already to translate (even when one is speaking one’s own native language, or when one is speaking to oneself). Further, one has to take into account the plurality of languages, which demand a more exacting encounter with the different Other.” So, even those unfortunate souls who are only monolin-

This article is based on the lecture Women and cultural transmission. The essential role of translation given by the author at the Institute for Catalan Studies on 3 March 2016, as the Distinguished Lecture of the AE-BKH Women's Week of 2016. ISSN (print): 1575-6343 e-ISSN: 2013-410X

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Migrations of meaning

gual engage continually in translation: first and foremost, every speech act is a translation of the sensations or thoughts we wish to communicate. Speech always supposes an other, and the production of words is a translation of ourselves for the other. The essence of language, what all languages have in common “is a capacity to mediate between a human speaker and a world of meanings (actual and possible) spoken about”. When a father explains to his daughter that the animal that barks is a dog, he is translating for her; when your friend asks what you mean when you say you are not happy, you are translating for him. When slang first appears, it is a private language that eventually reaches the larger public through elucidation in the media or from group to group: in some cases, by the time it reaches the mainstream it is often no longer in use in the originating group. In others it becomes mainstream. Intralingual translation is generally unconscious; it is in interlingual translation that we become aware of our role, and of the frequent precariousness of our role. Hence, my discussion will inevitably deal with a dual vulnerability: that of the translator—common to all those who walk the tightrope between languages—and that of the translator from Catalan, who faces the specific vulnerabilities of a language not only without a state, but even now under siege by a government that, paradoxically, sees in a strong and impassioned, but still-vulnerable, language a danger for its own, supposedly impregnable, fortress. What is this abyss, this mise-en-abîme, of language as viewed from the standpoint of translation? One of the most beautiful explanations I have read comes from a Turkish translator, Aron Aji, who explains the shortcomings of mere vocabulary in this way. “What Turkish may lack in lexical breadth (its vocabulary is only a fifth of the English), it compensates amply in semiotic depth. What may seem like unsettling ambiguity in English is often part of the allusive poetic substance of Turkish. The Turkish to English translation must therefore entail effort to capture as much of this substance as possible. […]1[…]2But it is almost never possible to capture everything.

When successful, I’d like my English translation to not only convey the translatable in a satisfying manner but also gesture toward, give the reader a distinct sense of, the untranslatable. In A Long Day’s Evening, it was particularly satisfying to render Bilge Karasu’s impossible phrase yaklaşmanın uzaklaştırıcılığı as ‘being ever near yet never, ever there.’ There is a beautiful parallel between Aji’s rendering of the Turkish phrase—“being ever near yet never, ever there,” and Amiri Baraka’s description of jazz in his groundbreaking book, Blues People. In it, Baraka, born Leroi Jones, conveys the kinds of vulnerability and resilience we will be discussing here, when he explains that one of the most fundamental differences between classical music and jazz is that classical music pursues the perfection of hitting the perfect note perfectly, and always in the same way, while jazz instead seeks out the note, playing in the vicinity, approaching it, caressing it, and then leaving it behind, but almost never hitting it— Baraka called this “blueing” the note. And in a way not unlike Aji’s implicit critique of the overexactness of English vis-à-vis the more allusive and elusive Turkish, Baraka is positing jazz— the music of African-Americans, also known sometimes as “America’s classical music”— as more allusive and elusive than its European, or, to be more exact, “white,” counterpart. So translators are faced with a double dilemma. To convey to the best of their ability inexactitude, when precision is insufficient, but also to recognize when the richness of precision requires imagination. To take an example from English and the Romance languages that confirms what Aji suggests about the impressive breadth of English vocabulary, English has dozens of synonyms for walking –to stride, to saunter, to amble, to plod, to dawdle, to hike, to trudge, to trod…—at some point before the automobile we must certainly have been a walking folk. It is very difficult to convey these specificities in a second language; this must usually be achieved by attaching adjectives and adverbs to caminar. But at least one has a sense what adverb to use. A different challenge emerges, one that thrusts the translator into the territory of almost rewriting, when deciding which

1 Let’s take, for instance, “hüzün,” (pron: hu-zun’) Orhan Pamuk’s by now famous example of an untranslatable Turkish word, which means, very loosely, “sorrow.” If it is untranslatable, it is not because English does not have a one-to-one correspondence, but because it has much too many synonyms--many of which are simultaneously implied in the Turkish--and settling on the wrong one can tragically reduce “Hüzün” to virtual nothingness. 2 While translating, I follow a disaggregation process, exploring the full taxonomy of a given Turkish word or phrase, considering all its properties, mining its sense, sound, syllabic meter as much as its metaphoric depths, translating it in as many ways as it can sustain, then reducing the options while trying to preserve as much of the semiotic range as possible.


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Contrib Sci


Book cover of “Private Life” (“Vida privada”) de Josep M. de Sagarra, translated into English by MA Newman, 2015.

of the many synonyms will best convey a simple caminar in English: is it fair to the author, or to the character, or to the text, simply to translate it as “walk”? Or is there an imaginative license that allows the translator, indeed that requires the translator, to visualize the character’s pace and stride and convey some facet of his or her nature or personality through a nuance of movement? Is the translator allowed to add something in compensation for the always-lamented “losses” of translation? Conversely, and more in keeping with the dilemma of the Turkish writer, what is a translator into English to do with the incredibly useful and ineffably poetic word esma, and my absolute favorite expression in Catalan, d’esma. No tinc esma de fer-ho: is that “I don’t feel like doing it”? “I


don’t have the energy to do it”? Literally, it is. But does that really convey the spirit of esma? And what about Ho vaig fer d’esma? “I did it automatically”? “I did it without thinking?” Sure, why not. But it doesn’t convey by any means the pure beauty of doing something d’esma. Though the origin, as in the Catalan verb for love, estimar, comes from the Latin aesmar, which is to calculate the cost of something. Down the road, however, it turned into its opposite and became to do something without calculating the cost or the energy. So a translator is always teetering above or navigating these waters of ambiguity, where exactitude is not valued, where the note always has to be blued, where the hall of mirrors draws you—d’esma, but willingly—into the abyss. Translators can never entirely be “right”; translations are CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):109-115 (2016)

never perfect. But both translators and translations are tarred with the wrong brush when they are seen as traitors. Perhaps this is a good time to examine why the catch phrase Traduttore, traditore has prospered as it has (aside from the simple, apposite, but infelicitous, coincidence of the sound of the two works, a false etymological likeness.) Translation between two languages often, perhaps always, entails a power relationship. It is not neutral to translate into English—the passage from a language spoken by 11 million people like Catalan into a behemoth like English, and the destiny of the text once translated, cannot be abstracted from the context of politics and commerce. Maybe one day this will be the case for Chinese as well. The position of English as a de facto lingua franca—and one that can use de facto and lingua franca in the same sentence without blushing—is entirely different from that of the other immense languages. English is seen as a monster, the linguistic analog to the U.S. Army or to Wall Street. But once English has become the means by which Anglophone Indian or African writers—or Danish or Japanese—have access to García Márquez, or Quim Monzó or Orhan Pamuk, it takes on a position not only as an “oppressor,” but as a conduit. This brings us to another question posed by the theme of this conference, an issue that is almost inevitable in the analysis of power relations: the gendering of the power transaction, whereby the individual, entity or practice that is perceived to be the weaker is also presumed to be female. In the case of the tropes of translation this is very clearly the case: translators are seen, according to Franz Rosenzweig as paradoxically “serving two masters: the foreigner with his work, the reader with his desire for appropriation, foreign author, reader dwelling in the same language as the translator.” This is the fundamental betrayal: the translator refuses to take sides, and slips back and forth, a tras-latio that becomes a tras-gradio. It is in this context that translators are called upon to be “faithful” to the text, to be “invisible”, to be silent conduits for the transposition of language. To be the magician’s assistant. And finally, the ever-so-tired allegation of treachery and betrayal in the catch phrase Traduttore, traditore takes us directly to the postlapsarian myth of the Garden of Eden. Translation, the dispersion of languages, is always associated with sin: the apple of Eden (or the pomegranate), the tower of Babel, and the arrogance of the city… We are taught that there is a perfect original language, the sacred mother tongue, that we have spoiled. Translators are al-

Òmnium Cultural

Migrations of meaning

About the author Mary Ann Newman (New York, 1951). M.A. in Spanish Literature, New York University. Co-founder of the Càtedra Barcelona-New York. She has taught Spanish and Catalan Language and Literature at New York University, Williams College, Bard College, and Middlebury College. In 1998 she was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi by the Catalan Government, and the Josep Carner award for Literary Theory of the Institute for Catalan Studies. She is the 2016 recipient of the J. B. Cendrós International Award of Òmnium Cultural. In 2004 she was designated institutional coordinator of the Institut Ramon Llull. She was director of the Catalan Center at the New York University, and is the founder and Executive Director of the Farragut Fund for Catalan Culture in the USA. She is also a member of the board of the Catalan Institute of America, a fellow of the North American Catalan Society, co-chair of the PEN America Translation Committee, and a member of the DiploCAT Advisory Council.

ways seen as repeating that sinful act. Each text to be translated is seen as perfect and pristine, and the translator must pour it into a new language vessel without variation or macula. To do otherwise is to sin, and to fall. This faithless wantonness is borne out by the place translation often occupies when it appears in literature or film, that is, when translation is the topic, or when a translator is a character. As Paul Ricoeur says, “we have always 112

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translated: there always were the merchants, the travelers, the ambassadors, the spies to satisfy the need to extend human exchanges beyond the linguistic community, which is one of the essential components of society.” The appearance of translation always signals a breach, a tear, and this breach is always a political or erotic transgression: a customs house or a seduction. Translation or translators in a text always point to a border to be crossed or a subject to be seduced. Think of all the war films in which an invader or escapee’s ability to get in or get out of a place depends on his or her ability to simulate the language or pass a cultural test: to know the secret word. This is snatched from the Bible, of course, from Judges 12, where the Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan River that led to Ephraim. To distinguish the Ephraimite survivors, the victors asked them to pronounce the word shibboleth. If they pronounced it with an initial “sh”, they were allowed to cross over; if they pronounced the “sh” as “ess”, they were killed on the spot. It is written in Judges that forty-two thousand Ephraimites—and one must assume, Gileadites with speech impediments—were killed as a result. (You Are What You Speak, Robert Lane Greene, p. 3). You may think the presence of translation is an infrequent occurrence, but once you start noticing, it becomes quite common. Fans of the Star Trek movies may remember a film—I think it was Star Trek 5— where Captain Kirk had to steal a starship in order to rescue his men on a distant planet. The ship was disguised, but when they reached the Klingon checkpoint, they had to radio in. If they used the automatic translation technology—the universal translator!—the Klingons would recognize them. So Lieutenant Uhura—the black woman is the translator, of course—drags out an immense, dusty tome, and they start translating word for word—the spectator understands all of this through the subtitles. All goes well, if clumsily, until the Klingon makes a joke in Klingon and laughs; they are at a loss; panic starts to set in until Scotty—also a “different” English speaker, perhaps more linguistically aware as a Scot—motions to Uhura to turn on the radio and bursts into forced laughter. The rest all follow, the Klingon thinks they got the joke, and they are allowed to pass. On to seduction. There is a scene in the second Wayne’s World movie, in which Wayne wants to impress Cassandra, his Chinese-American love interest, by speaking with her in Mandarin. She is appropriately impressed, but


at a certain point, when Wayne tries to philosophize beyond his linguistic abilities—Kierkegaard is mentioned—his voice trails off, but the subtitles continue to roll, and Cassandra waits patiently until the written sentence is finished. These are, additionally, two cases of a very clever visual counterpoint—the use of subtitles to reveal the subterfuge, or the shibboleth—in films that couldn’t be more popular and mass media. A case from proper literature, then: In Javier Marías’s Corazón tan blanco/Heart So White (translated by Margaret Jull Costa) the protagonist is an interpreter assigned to translate between two thinly-veiled stand-ins for the British and Spanish heads of state, Margaret Thatcher and Felipe González. The male translator is attracted to the female supervisor, who must stop the proceedings if there is any incorrect or inappropriate interpretation. The translator combines thoughts of the woman’s beautiful ankles and beautifully shod feet—Prada is mentioned—with expressions of boredom at the uninteresting conversation. Suddenly, he interjects an impertinent question, something that patently hasn’t been said; the supervisor is shocked, but doesn’t dare interrupt because his lapse in protocol has set off a genuine conversation between the two heads of state. His ever-greater breaches in interpretation are accompanied by advances in the foreplay, and by the end of the chapter he has made the supervisor complicit in the betrayal and hence in the seduction. And, finally, an example from Catalan literature. In a 1915 novel by Eugeni d’Ors, Gualba, la de mil veus/Gualba of the Thousand Voices, a forty-year old father and his eighteen year-old daughter go to a mountain village for vacation. They spend the mornings taking healthful walks through the countryside, and the afternoons translating King Lear into Catalan (though the target language is never stated). A great sexual tension arises between them in the course of the novel, and the channel of expression for their feelings is the translation. The eventual act of sexual consummation is not described, but a previous chapter describing the voluptuosity of their ululation of the verb of Shakespeare had foreshadowed and, in fact, stood in for it. This is a beautiful case of translation not as a metaphor for sex, but as a substitute for the act itself. My purpose in adducing these examples from literature and film, both high and low, is to suggest the ubiquitousness of the figure of the translator or of translation, and its unmistakable, unshakable, and immanent aura of trans-

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Migrations of meaning

gression and danger. (The etymologies bear this out: of course, trans-latio is a move from side to side, from one place to another; what people perhaps are less aware of is that trans-gression also indicates an advance, a going beyond, a taking of steps—from grada, “step.”) This suggestion of false steps—of faux pas—points to the abyss under the translator’s tightrope, genders the translator as feminine, or as the less-powerful subject, and guarantees her vulnerability, as an invisible subject. One of the great elucidators of translation, practically the father of translation studies in the United States, is Lawrence Venuti. He has traced the trope of invisibility as applied to translation from the 17th to 21st centuries. And the epigraph of his first and most influential book, The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation, a quote from Norman Shapiro, says it all: “I see translation as the attempt to produce a text so transparent that it does not seem to be translated. A good translation is like a pane of glass. You only notice that it’s there when there are little imperfections— scratches, bubbles. Ideally, there shouldn’t be any. It should never call attention to itself.” Invisibility is a tricky thing. What Venuti is concerned about is that “translation is required to efface its secondorder status with transparent discourse, producing the illusion of authorial presence whereby the translated text can be taken as the original.” The translator is seen to be conjuring the presence of the author, and his or her own authorship is erased. As Venuti once again says, this “undoubtedly reinforces [translation’s] marginal status in Anglo-American culture.” And as we know, invisibility has profound implications for society. We are continually seeing the effects of invisibility, of things that go on behind closed doors and high walls. There is much controversy here in Catalonia these days over what the linguist Carme Junyent calls desdoblament: the insistence, usually of politicians and educators, on pronouncing both genders when speaking to an audience. Ladies and gentlemen, or Senyores i senyors has come to seem natural, even though we have seen a photograph in the Mobile World Congress of an audience for Mark Zuckerberg that appeared to be composed entirely of men. Yet when this is extended to “ciutadans i ciutadanes” or “companys i companyes”, and all the other inclusionary titles that make manifest the presence of women, it is taken to

be absurd and unnecessary. It is not. Invisibility and exclusion always have consequences. Until women’s and men’s salaries are the same, until women are promoted at the same rate as men, until it is no longer necessary to promote parity by percentage, it will be worth the time and bother to include women in the speech act. And until we are included, those things will not happen. And until what now seems forced, linguistically, becomes natural, those thing also will not happen. It is a perfect vicious cycle.

Conclusions A very beautiful Franco-Algerian movie came out, I calculate in the early 90’s, called Women Hold Up Half the Sky of Allah. It told the story of the Algerian revolution from the point of view of women. It showed how women had participated actively in the Algerian revolution, often passing arms across checkpoints under their veils and voluminous skirts. The new Constitution included greater rights and opportunities for women. And yet, little by little, the government of Ben Bella stripped away those rights, in response to rightwing demands, until women were once more placed behind closed doors. The filmmaker made explicit the point that women who are not seen are subject to much greater domestic violence, and the film which began on the urban battlefield ends in a shelter for battered women. Once again, invisibility has consequences. This year a beautiful Turkish film called Mustang was up for the Oscar for best foreign film. It, too, documents the shutting away of five high-spirited adolescent girls in a beach town on the Black Sea. In the house, whose gates and walls grow higher and more impregnable (never better said) as the film goes on, the young women are abused by their uncle who watches religious programs with them whose principal topic is the temptations represented by women and the chastity that must be imposed on them. Not only women are invisible, though. The question of Church pederasty is worldwide, and was also exposed in the movies this year, with the wonderful movie, Spotlight. And the question of the invisibility of black Americans in the film industry—despite the growing and extraordinary artistic presence of African-American faces in films and television, not a single African America was nominated for an award in the past two years—achieved notoriety this year with the hashtag #OscarSoWhite. And these are generally people of


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privilege. It is only thanks to exposure through technology—the omnipresence of cell phones and security cameras—of the bigotry of police tactics that citizens can protest and effect change. And, finally, it is only through the exposure of the surveillance machinery that has taken place in the world, and perhaps most particularly in the United States, since the attack on the World Trade Center, that citizens have a chance to question the policies being carried out on us in the name of security. Secrecy. This has repercussions both for the practitioners of translation and for the place of translations in the world. While the rest of the world translates English language texts into the other major languages, English does not return the favor. The preponderance of publications written originally in English and the lack of attention to world literature has a chilling effect on the ability of translators to transport knowledge of the world through texts. Through translations we discover our commonalities and our differences—herein the importance of not entirely erasing the signs of diversity in the process of translating. If a book is so transparently translated as to appear to be written in the target language, the reader is robbed of the experience of difference. When Paul Ricoeur was already in his 90’s he wrote three small essays on translation—small in length, but enormous in their implication. Ricoeur develops a notion of linguistic hospitality which entails “correspondence without complete adhesion. … Just as in a narration it is always possible to tell the story in a different way, likewise in translation it is always possible to translate otherwise […] Linguis-

tic hospitality, then, [is] where the pleasure of dwelling in the other’s language is balanced by the pleasure of receiving the foreign word at home, on one’s own welcoming house.” Translators are not some sort of language siren, awaiting the ship with our betrayals and seductions. We are writers, we are language workers, and we are necessarily resilient. Traveling between languages allows us to bend and fold, to bob and weave, to shift with the punches. To keep two ideas in our heads at the same time. To interpret, for the good and pleasure of the reader. Far from being traitors, I think it is time we began to think of translators as heroines… and heroes. Competing interests. None declared. Acknowledgements. It is a great privilege to be speaking here today. I am grateful to Dr. Ricard Guerrero for confiding to me the opening talk of this fascinating conference, in which we will honor the experiences of migrants and, in particular, of women who migrate. I am thrilled to be among such old friends as Dr. Guerrero and Dr. Salvador Giner, who led this beloved host institution and who is speaking on a topic so fundamental to questions of gender. I look forward to remembering the astonishing Lynn Margulis, who not only mapped the science of Gaia, but had the poetic sensibility to memorize each day a poem by Emily Dickinson. I am particularly looking forward to comparing notes with Mitsi Ito about how a New Yorker fell in love with Barcelona—because that makes two of us—but it will also be the start of new and fruitful conversations with Maryam Ghafouri, Pere Castaño, Carmen Chica and Sílvia Pellicer. That Dr. Guerrero and Anna Wasmer have put together such an extraordinary cultural event including art and music and intercultural dialogue to celebrate Women’s Week is a tribute to the authentic spirit of Europe, which, as Dr. Guerrero reminded us, is the continent of the “open face” or “open eyes”—amb la traducció hem topat— and of the Academia Europaea.

About the images on the first page of the articles in this issue. Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science, devoted to the activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH), show in their first page a reproduction of a trencadís, a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism, made from broken pieces of ceramics, like tiles and dinnerware. Those nine “broken tiles,” designed by the architect from Reus Antoni Gaudí, show multiple angles and views, reflecting the ever-changing reality around us. The AE-BKH believes that those images, created more than a century ago, represent appropriately the multiple aspects of the present academic world, both in science and humanities, which constitute one of the main objectives of the activities of the Barcelona hub. See also the article “Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus,” by R. Gomis and K. Katte, on pages 145-149 of this issue. This issue can be downloaded in ISSUU format and individual articles can be found at the journals’ repository of the Institute for Catalan Studies [;].


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INTERSECTION WORKSHOPS AT THE AE-BKH Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Catalonia


CONTRIB SCI 12(2):117-127 (2016) doi:10.2436/20.7010.01.252

The Mediterranean, bridge of cultures. Lectures at the AE-BKH in 2014 Nicole Skinner Academia Europaea-Barcelona Knowledge Hub

Trencadís (“broken tiles”) by Antoni Gaudí

Summary. Activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH) on 27-28 November 2014. The article describes the lectures given for the Disputatio of Barcelona 2014 on “The Mediterranean, bridge of cultures”, by Enric Banda and Maria Paradiso, at the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, Barcelona (27 Nov.), and for the Intersection Workshop (ISW-AE) on “The Mediterranean in the crossroad: Past, present and future”, by Jean-Pierre Brun, Isabelle Anguelovski, Ricard Guerrero, Rubén Duro, Alessandro Tessari, Marc Mayer, and Salvador Giner, at the Institute for Catalan Studies (28 Nov.). The ISW-AE was followed by a visit to the CosmoCaixa museum of science, and a choral concert by Cor de Músic, from Castelldefels, which sang Medieval songs at the main auditorium of the museum. [Contrib Sci 12(2): 117-127 (2016)] Keywords: Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AEBKH) · Ramon Llull (1232–1316) · Messinian salinity crisis · Mediterranean deltas · global cities

Correspondence: Nicole Skinner

“The Mediterranean, bridge of cultures”,

the Disputatio of Barcelona 2014

The Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH) was set up in 2012 as the Academy’s regional office

for Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The hub’s mission is to organize scientific activities that include the perspective of the sciences and the humanities. One of its main annual events is a modern day Disputatio of Barcelona. Having originated in the Middle Age as a formalized method of

This article is based on a previously published article in the journal Contrib Sci 11(1):37-47 (2015). ISSN (print): 1575-6343 e-ISSN: 2013-410X

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The Mediterranean bridge of cultures

Fig. 1. (A) Main entrance of the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site in Barcelona (formerly, Sant Pau Hospital), the place where the Disputatio of Barcelona 2014: “The Mediterranean, bridge of cultures”, took place on 27 November 2014. (B) Authorites and lecturers at the Disputatio of Barcelona 2014. From left to right: Antoni Castellà, Maria Paradiso, Parvati Nair, Enric Banda, Anne Buttimer, Andreu Mas-Colell, Theo D'haen, Genoveva Martí and Ricard Guerrero. (C) Social mixing after the lectures of the Disputatio of Barcelona 2014 at the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site.

debate, the present-day Disputatio of Barcelona aims to present two unique disciplinary angles—scientific and humanistic—on a given topic. The Disputatio of Barcelona 2014: "The Mediterranean, bridge of cultures” took place on 27 Nov. at the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site in Barcelona and it was organized in conjunction with the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility (UNU-GCM). The event was inaugurated by Anne Buttimer, Vice-President of the Academia Europaea, Ricard Guerrero, Academic Director of the AE-BKH, and Parvati Nair, Founding Director of UNU-GCM. The two speakers were Enric Banda, Director of Science and Environment at “la Caixa” Foundation and Member of the AE, who discussed “Science as a Mediterranean bridge”, and Maria Paradiso, Professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Sannio, Italy, who spoke on “The Mediterranean: bridging, bordering and cross-bordering.” (Fig. 1) Enric Banda demonstrated the important geophysical transformations of the Mediterranean Sea over time and

how the planet on its own has tailored the Mediterranean region. Science was born along the Mediterranean. The exchange of ideas, through travel and commerce, encouraged Mediterranean civilizations to recognize that nature could be understood in itself and not merely listening to gods. He explained how the Mediterranean approach was decisive because it opened the road to intellectual challenges, the idea of progress and the development and democratization of knowledge. He highlighted that science is essential for addressing the current challenges of sustainability in the region and how responsible research and innovation, in collaboration with society at large, will be the way to connect both shores of the Mediterranean. Maria Paradiso proposed to view the Mediterranean region as representative of a global, mobile reality. She argued that the idea of unitary Mediterranean is a fiction that has been upheld by popular visions based on cultural stereotypes. The Mediterranean today is a space associated with fractures, borders and securitization. She proposed instead a 118

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Fig. 2. Programme of the InterSection Workshop on "The Mediterranean in the crossborad: Past, present and future", held at the Institute for Catalan Studies on 28 November 2014.

view of the region based on flows, on networks, the circulation of ideas, people, finances, etcetera. In her approach, the mobility paradigm is explored as an initial approach to contemporary geographies of the Mediterranean created not only by media, powers and ideologies, but also by everyday people’s interethnic, intercultural and emotional interaction.


The Mediterranean thus appears as a global web of confrontation, emulation, opposition, dialectics and change. She concluded that if we examined the potential of digital networks to create new solidarities and mobilities, we could reconstruct the Mediterranean as a space for the pursuit of dignity.

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The Mediterranean bridge of cultures


Mediterranean in the crossroad”, an InterSection Workshop of the AEBKH Within the framework of the modern-day Disputatio of Barcelona, the BKH organized the first AE Intersection Workshop (AE-ISW) with the aim of discussing interdisciplinary issues and topics with a regional dimension. “The Mediterranean in the crossroad: Past, present and future” was held on 28 November, 2014, at the Institute for Catalan Studies in Barcelona. The speakers, all from diverse scientific backgrounds, were Jean-Pierre Brun, from the University of Rennes, Isabelle Anguelowski, from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Ricard Guerrero, from the AE-BKH, Rubén Duro, biologist and scientific photographer, Alessandro Tessari, from the University of Padua, Marc Mayer, from the University of Barcelona, and Salvador Giner, professor emeritus of the University of Barcelona (Fig. 2). The multidisciplinary journey started with the geological origin of the Mediterranean; its early life from a microbiological perspective; the demography of the first Mediterranean global network—the Roman Empire—; a study of Catalan philosopher and writer Ramon Llull (1232–1316) as the first proto-European; a sociological view on the region’s problems and opportunities, and an analysis of Barcelona as an example of urban and environmental planning in the region.

The origins and plate tectonics of the Mediterranean The present-day Mediterranean Sea is a remnant of the western arm of the Tethys Sea, the ocean that coexisted between the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia during much of the Mesozoic era. The Mediterranean is a closed sea surrounded by mountain belts, which resulted from the shortening of plates. It appeared less than 60 million years ago, quite recently from a geological perspective, and it is still a very tectonically active area. Nowadays, Anatolia is moving westwards and Greece is moving towards the southwest up to 3 cm per year (Fig. 3). Tectonic plates can diverge to give ocean openings and they can also converge by subduction, producing a shortening of the plates that results in a mountain belt. Plate divergence (e.g., the Atlantic) is compensated by plate convergence (subduction, e.g., Andes). By measuring the age of the

plates under the ocean we know that the oldest plate is very young compared to the age of the Earth. The age of the ocean floor is <180 million years (Ma), so we know that oceanic plates are permanently renewing. A big improvement in our understanding of the relation between the plates and the mantle below came thanks to seismic tomography. Seismologists place seismometers at different places on the surface and record the seismic waves coming from earthquakes from all around the Earth. It is a matter of calculation, converting millions of rays and then calculating the velocity that these waves have below the different places we want to study. This technique has allowed geologists to study how the African plate is going down, it is subducting below the Anatolian plate, just south of the Peloponnese. This explains all the earthquakes in the area around Greece. Geology also allows us to know the timing of events, the type and date the rocks, when volcanoes are functioning, and where the sediments are depositing, helping us to relate present-day geology to history. Thanks to paleomagnetism, the study of the record of the Earth’s magnetic field in rocks, sediments and archaeological materials, we can see if some pieces have rotated and how much they have rotated. The datasets collected from the surface help reconstruct the present-day subduction. In the Iberian Peninsula, there is a subduction of plates almost perpendicular towards Italy. It is a case called subduction rollout, where the tip of the subduction is moving in the reverse sense of the sense followed by the plate to go into the mantle. On top of the down-going plate there are backarc domains and in these domains there are high-pressure metamorphic rocks that have gone down, undergone changes and then come up again with fossils during the rollout. These high-pressure rocks, blueschists and eclogites, which can be found in the Aegean, have recorded an increase followed by a decrease of pressure. Thanks to thermodynamic analysis of the minerals, scientists can measure the pressure that the rock has supported, and with the use of isotopes can date the minerals that crystallized. In other words, it is possible to know the pressure at a given time. The Messinian salinity crisis. The Messinian salinity crisis was a geological event that took place between 6.0 and 5.3 million years ago, whereby the Mediterranean went into a cycle of nearly complete desiccation. Geologists have been trying to understand this problem for the last 25 years. In the 1970s, using seismic exploration data, it was discovered that there was a layer of evaporates (salt) deposited 120

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Fig. 3. The Mediterranean Sea, that can be considered the largest “lake” in the world. Many cultures and most of the scientific knowledge started around its shores. (From the lecture by Dr. Ricard Guerrero at the 28 November, 2014 Workshop, in Barcelona. About Alexandria, see also the article by Carmen Chica, pp xx-xx, this issue.)

on the Mediterranean seafloor [1]. A hypothesis was put forward of the desiccation of the Mediterranean as responsible for salt deposition. At the time, most members of the scientific community thought this was absolutely crazy, and strong disputes remain to this day. However, one thing most agree on is that there were two main successive events of evaporite deposition: gypsum– salt. Strontium (Sr) isotopes in gypsum and carbonates as a function of age show that event #1 resulted from sea water evaporation then supplied from Atlantic waters and event #2 resulted from the river waters from surrounding continents. During this 700,000-year period, rivers incised their bedrocks by up to 1600 m with regard the present-day level of the river. This is because if the level of the sea goes down, the river will follow, decreasing its levels as well. In other words, the demonstration of the Messinian salinity crisis was made by the rivers. It was thought originally that the slab rollback was responsible, but it actually ended before the onset of the crisis. More probably, the slab rollback prepared the crisis, but was not enough to justify it. The Gibraltar Strait is the symbol of the Messinian salinity crisis. Reflooding of the Mediterranean happened through the Gibraltar strait, with a discharge of 108 m3/s, three orders of magnitude larger than the present-day Amazon River flow. All these events reinforce the idea that the Mediterranean is a living geological system, expected to disappear in some 10 million years.


Mediterranean deltas: early life and late cultures It has been estimated to be more that 30 million of currentr species, and we know that many more species have lived and have become extinguished [8]. Biological communities are usually stratified, because of light extinction with depth. Tropical forests, planktonic communities, stratified lakes, and microbial mats can be considered as analogous forms at different scales. The photosynthetic layer expands for many meters in tropical forests; from a few meters to a few centimeters in multi-layered planktonic microbial communities, and for a few millimeters in microbial mats. Microbial mats are highly diverse, physically and chemically active systems and are considered to have constituted early ecosystems, probably the earliest ones. The microorganisms in mats or in complex biofilms form coordinated functional communities that are much more efficient than mixed populations of floating planktonic organisms. The survival value of this strategy in the environment of the early Earth can be considered the main clue to the resilience of life against adverse environmental conditions [7]. The five largest Mediterranean deltas. The Rhône and the Ebro deltas, where microbial mats occur all along the coast, offer an ideal scenario to study them, and thus early life on our planet. As proposed by Prof. Ricard Guerrero, in accordance with Prof. Ramon Margalef (1919–2004), life CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2)117-127 (2016)

The Mediterranean bridge of cultures

started several times on Earth. Why is life only present in the Solar System, as we know now? It is thanks to bacterial “invention” of the ecosystem: if only one species were to be present, nutrients would disappear; but in ecosystems, bacteria are able to recycle scarce and limited chemical elements, nutrients and energy. These coordinated functional communities subsequently allowed the evolution of more diverse forms of life and the persistence of life as a planetary phenomenon. Together with the Ebro and the Rhône deltas, the Po, the Danube and the Nile rivers represent the five largest deltas in the Mediterranean. Today, these landforms have been designated as protected areas or natural parks, such as the Po or the Ebro deltas, or are considered rich agricultural regions, such as the Nile Delta. However, looking back in history, deltas were associated to the idea of being places of illness and desolation. Disease-carrying mosquitoes abounded in these areas and it was not possible to hunt or to grow anything in them, factors that surely played a role in culture developing very late around deltas. Approximately 200 years ago, however, it was discovered that rice could resist the salinity found in deltas. Besides, rice can grow thanks to the presence of Azolla sp., an aquatic "fern” which carries a nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria that later releases the nitrogen needed for the plant’s growth. Around the planet today, deltas are at the heart of the rice producing areas and key to the world food supply (Fig. 4). Of microbes and men. Humans live in a dynamic state of coexistence with a myriad of forms of microbial life. Nobody denies that pathogenic microorganisms have posed a threat for both humans and other forms of life. We can thus consider humans, or the human body, as an additional scale. Many diseases have been related to deltas, such as malaria, yellow fever, or filariasis. But there are other, such as the plague, that devastated the Mediterranean as a whole, killing 30–60% of Europe’s total population between 1346– 1353. The Black Death, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, is thought to have been carried by fleas found on the rats aboard merchant ships and to have spread from Genoa to the rest of the continent. It had profound effects on the course of European history and has been the subject numerous paintings, such as Peter Bruegel’s (1525–1569) The Triumph of Death (1562), or books such as Giovanni Boccaccio’s (1313–1375) Deca­meron (1351). The Black Death is probably the best known pandemy and it has been credited with ending medieval culture and thought.

But another Italian city, Naples, and another epidemics, syphilis, marked the beginning of the Renaissance. Known also as morbus gallicus, hispanus or germanicus, its name is derived from the epic poem written in 1530 by Girolamo Frascatoro’s (1478–1553) Syphilis sive morbus Gallicus (his 1546 book De contagione et contagiosis morbis also provided the first description for typhus). Syphilis started abruptly at the end of the 15th century and had three distinct features: rapidly spreading epidemics, sexual transmission, and a quite visible and apparently serious symptomatology. Syphilis, caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, was a disease that men contracted mostly through contact with prostitutes. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was still the most feared sexually transmitted disease, not only by the effects and complications it could cause in the affected people, but also because the public recognition of the disease was a social stigma [5]. But microbes may also be responsible for certain miracles. The bacterium Serratia marcescens, which produces a red pigment, is responsible for the Miracle of Daroca (1238) and the Miracle of Bolsena (1263), where Mass hosts where found soaked in “blood,” or account for the miraculous appearance of blood on the Eucharist that led to Pope Urban IV (1195–1264) instituting the celebration of the Corpus Christi in 1264 [6]. A great majority of the species that are now or have been on Earth are microorganisms. The interactions between humans and microorganisms have very important consequences that, either positively or negatively affect our species. Microorganisms are the main agents of biogeochemical cycles of the elements of the biosphere but they also cause infectious diseases. However, all organisms have learned to coexist with microorganisms and today we know that most numerous and representative interactions between microorganisms and other organisms are not pathogenic but symbiotic. In fact, humans still inhabit the Earth because the pathogens that have attacked us can benefit of our survival. Microorganisms contribute to the biosphere with more benefits that disadvantages. The extreme metabolic and ecological variety of the microbial world represents a wide, unexplored resource for biodiversity of great value for the future [8].

The Roman Empire, the first Mediterranean global network The present-day situation of the Mediterranean Sea and the conflicts that arise in its proximity are undoubtedly a topical subject, one that frequently gives rise to dramatic situations. The demographic study of the Roman world can provide a 122

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Fig. 4. Detail of La Malaria (1850-1851), oil on canvas by French artist Antoine Auguste Ernest Hébert (1817–1908). Hébert’s painting conveyed admirably the melancholy of diseased country people and the blurring pestilential environment where they lived. The mala aria (bad air) can be indeed perceived in the painting, one of the best-known works of the artist. This painting was on the cover of Int Microbiol 2006, issue 9(2).

better understanding of this inland sea, the mare internum, in order to obtain a broader historical perspective that can clearly be projected onto the world of today. The contribution that the study of the World of Antiquity can make to all these questions is substantial even though the chronological distance might lead one to think that such a remote period is unlikely to have had much bearing on the contemporary situation. (For a full analysis on the topic, see: Mayer M, 2015, in this issue of Contributions to Science, pp. 49-58.)

Ramon Llull, the first proto-European Born in Majorca in 1232, Ramon Llull was a prolific and multifaceted writer and philosopher who wrote in Catalan, Latin and Arabic. Llull lived in the period of the late Middle Age, considered historically as irrationalistic times, but together with Roger Bacon, Grossatesta, and the Calculatores of Oxford, he was one of the men who announced what was to come a few centuries later: the scientific revolution. The heart of Llull’s contribution resided in what he called the Art, a general system for the interpretation of visible and invisible reality, which made use of semi-mechanical techniques, symbolic notation and combinatorial diagrams. The Art provided a single methodological basis for all fields of knowledge in the 13th century, from theology to the natural and the human sciences, and many people consider this was the start of modern computer science.

Modernity and the Mediterranean The history of the Mediterranean is the history of its cities,


and the modern world owes its origin, to a large extent, to Mediterranean cities. French poet Charles Baudelaire is credited with coining the term modernity to designate the ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis. Modernity arose in post-Medieval Europe, with academics still disputing whether it started in the 14th or 15th centuries. However, some argue that, from an urban point of view, modernity was already underway the 12th century in the Mediterranean cities of Florence, Milan, Genoa and Barcelona. Modernity was later triggered by the creation of the stock exchange, an Italian invention and today a pillar of ultramodern capitalism in Wall Street and in the City. Private limited companies and currency exchange, both Catalan inventions, were also elemental, exemplified by double entry books, debit and credit, the application of rationality to accounts, accounting tables, and the invention of balance. As the initiative of the modernizing era was being displaced towards north-western Europe, the south did not follow the pattern of the mostly protestant, industrialized north. The Mediterranean arc remained stagnant and backwards in a peculiar situation which later led to its countries to the failure of the industrial revolutions. Some cities such as Venice, managed to maintain prosperity during the long period of decline in the Mediterranean. And areas such as Catalonia and Piedmont, around their capitals, Barcelona and Turin, evolved to become bourgeois societies and then advanced more naturally towards an industrial capitalism. But this was not usually the case [4]. All of southern Europe shares a very similar process of modernization. Over the past 200 years approximately, there has been a sequence of stages of economic and political development taking place in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece, CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2)117-127 (2016)

Nicole Skinner

The Mediterranean bridge of cultures

About the author Nicole Skinner is a biologist (University of Barcelona, 2006) specialized in the communicaction of science. She received her Professional Master Degree in Scientifical, Medical and Environmental Communication by the Pompeu Fabra University in 2007, and her MSc in Science Communication by the Imperial College of London in 2014. Currently is Managing director at Pilvertees UK and Science communication manager at Cancer Research UK. Between 2006 and 2014, she developed different activities for the Institute for Catalan Studies (research and editorial assistant, science journals editor, science advisor) and for the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europea (AE-BKH) (Hub officer). She is also science writer and translator, and from 2009 to 2013, she was Managing Editor of the Contributions to Science journal.

that present incredible synchronicity despite taking place in such diverse countries. In all these countries, an initial stage of elitist, oligarchic government was followed by imperialist wars and later fascist dictatorships. If we look at Lisbon, Madrid, Rome and Athens, the state was interventionist, but not in a truly modern sense. In peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opinion, the capital embodied certain negative traits. It was distant, frightening and guilty of many national ills. At the same time, it was also a powerful pole of attraction generating employment, power and prosperity. But the growth of commercial and industrial empires, far

from the political capital, illustrated the divorce between the political and the civil society. We can even say, with due caution, that in some Mediterranean countries a proverbial â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tale of Two Citiesâ&#x20AC;? took place reproducing this important dichotomy. Until very recently, and to a lesser extent today, many observers considered Spain and Italy as two-headed countries, each with two metropolises. Milan and Barcelona, Rome and Madrid became paradigmatic examples of industry and bourgeois society on the one hand, and political and administrative power on the other. The culture and attitude of the bourgeois cities was based on the flourishing of their civil societies, the cult of private enterprise, competition and progress without any further state support than protectionism, in some concrete cases. In the political capital, however, oligarchic governments and the mentality of class privilege dragged the state machinery and promoted state-ism and bureaucratic parasitism. This urban, metropolitan dichotomy that developed in Italy and Spain during most of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century could easily be extended to Turkey, with the polarity represented by Istanbul and Ankara, to Greece, with Athens and Thessaloniki and, to a lesser extent, to Portugal, with Lisbon and Porto [4]. Any consideration of any important facts of Mediterranean societies must address the reality of their dualism, their ambiguities, and even their duplications. These countries have historically represented an obstacle to modernization, but they have also been a stimulus for what was once called progress, in that they have constructed or implemented industrialism, capitalism, literacy, socialism and many other forces of modernity.

Urban planning in the Mediterranean Urban planning in global cities is influenced by sources and investments that create different patterns of revitalization and inequalities. In the 21st century, cities are not necessarily seen as the main actors of globalization, but just as nodes around which real estate companies, banks and industries move, looking for the most attractive one, the one with the best tax breaks or better conditions to develop their projects. Thus cities become mere tools for those stakeholders. Spatial concentration of resources and uneven development due to investments moving from place to place in cycles of growth, devaluation, destruction, reinvestment, and mobilization mean there is great spatial inequality between areas of land that will be abandoned and others that will be used as new spaces of regeneration, with the emergence of 124

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greater patterns of equality, but also patterns of inequality due to gentrification. Urban planning in global cities. Cities are nodes within a global network of financial services .and corporate headquarters that attempt to efficiently organize the internationalization of production, finance and information. If we compare Barcelona to other contexts, we see that, in the USA for example, the growth of suburbanization sprawl has turned into decreased job opportunities and neighborhood degradation for the people who live in the inner city [10], combined with a recent revaluation of inner city life and amenities. Cities such as Philadelphia, Boston or Houston, for example, are all seeing an influx of younger people coming back to the city. In Europe, there tends to be a mix of traditional working-class residents in central neighborhoods with professionals seeking to move to the urban cultural centres and with new immigrants overpopulating deteriorated districts, for example, the Raval neighborhood in Barcelona [2,3]. And in the Global South, there are extreme patterns and extreme contrasts of wealth and development and poverty in very close spaces, like the case of Beirut. In rapidly urbanizing mega-cities, transnational flows of investment, information and production are transforming the urban space. Developers and real estate actors put strong pressure on urban lands and territories. On the one hand you have informal settlements (such as favelas) and very close new areas of wealth and luxury housing can be found. One of the most acute forms of vulnerability in cities today is linked to the right to housing. Over the past decade, housing has become an object of speculation and of wealth

creation rather than a right. Between 2002 and 2007, Europe experienced a housing bubble with prices rising 6% per year. In Spain, particularly, real estate rocketed, with the national average house price increasing by 250% between 1996 and 2007. Furthermore, housing equity policies declined, as did government support for housing subsidies. This situation led to the “Right to the City Movement”. Also known in Spain as the “15M”, this citizen movement claimed that cities are not meant to be for the profit of developers but for people, demanding the right to housing, the right to participation and transparency in decision making, as well as environmental and economic justice. Urban planning and the rebirth of Barcelona. The city of Barcelona offers and interesting case study as to how do urban revitalization policies create new conditions for socio-spatial inequalities and furthermore, how urban residents can challenge these inequalities and attempt to create new planning practices. As the first democratic government came to power in 1977, it tried to respond to residents’ demands for improvements on living conditions that had been neglected during the Franco’s dictatorship: housing, transportation, safety and public space. The idea was to transform the image of the city as a “Catalan Manchester” into that of multi-dynamic, multi-sectorial city with a new physical structure, economic base and social composition [11]. This was accomplished by creating new monument designs, increasing the cultural and architectural visibility of the city and improving the image of Barcelona through marketing of its touristic, cultural, and recreational, architectural attractions.

Table 1. Stages of development of Barcelona’s redevelopment Stage


The Barcelona of the neighborhoods (1978–mid-1980s)

150 projects transformed the quality of public spaces and neighborhood plazas with attention to social needs. Urban planning was done in conjunction with the residents, using their knowledge and the power of the community.

Olympic Games preparation (1986– 1992)

Massive transformation. The city turned towards the sea (the waterfront was revitalized, sport and recreational installations appeared, waterfront was rebuilt). The city became a space for recreation. It created a whole new neighborhood.

Post-Olympics era

Improvement of international markets and promotion of the city. Promotion of fairs and congresses. “Barcelona more than ever”. Promotion of the city as a center of design and knowledge.

Barcelona new projects

Rebuilding of poor areas that led to social inequality in the city. Emphasis on sustainability, new transportation and creation of new spaces through Agenda 21 program.

Knowledge city and smart city [8]

New forms of knowledge-based growth through the deployment of information, communication technologies and green technology. A more efficient and less resourceconsuming city.


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The Mediterranean bridge of cultures

Fig. 5. Activities of the AE-BKH on 28 November 2014. (A) Lectures in the InterSection Workshop at the Institute for Catalan Studies. Alexandro Tessari is speaking of Ramon Llull (1232–1316), showing the influence that this medieval writer had on European philosophy and architecture even centuries after his death. One exemple is El Escorial Monastery, by Juan de Herrera (1530–1597), inspired in Llullian’ conceptions. (B, C, D) Activities at the CosmoCaixa science museum: (B) Visit to the exhibit on the Mediterranean. (C) Choral concert by “Cor de Músic”, from Castelldefels. (D) Social mixing after the concert.

The city was redeveloped around the 1980s Special Plans for Interior Reform (Planes Especiales de Reforma Interior, PERI) in five stages (Table 1) and a lot of emphasis was placed in the regeneration of public spaces (libraries, community centers, gyms, schools) and investment in degraded areas of the city. The problem is that this was accomplished often on a huge scale and with block demolitions, in the end becoming very criticized and controversial projects, as they affected the social fabric of the city. Community-based regeneration. There are, however, examples of residents coming together to try to have a voice in the decision-making process of a neighborhood to be regenerated. This is the case of the “Ciutat Vella”, or old town, in Barcelona. In the 1980s and 1990s, 2000 residents were displaced and 1078 buildings destroyed during the initial revitalization of the old town. While big parts of the neighborhood were being destroyed, there was no longterm, sustainable and equitable vision in the process. In 2001, 175 buildings were in bad shape, including 35 of them in ruins, and they had poor sanitation conditions on top of inferior waste collection and management. Several street corners in the area were abandoned with debris and waste

accumulation. There was high drug consumption, the health centers were high in demand and usually overcrowded, and in addition, there were fewer opportunities for recreation. In response, the residents rebuilt the neighborhood, using do-it-yourself (DIY) techniques and thanks to their own capacity to raise funds, materials, trees, etc. The Municipality had no choice but to pay more attention to this space, and a 2.8€-million investment in water, light, gas, a sewage infrastructure followed. There were also education campaigns about recycling practices to improve waste management and two new community centers were built. Most importantly, perhaps, priority was placed in improving the wellbeing and quality of life, especially in marginalized or vulnerable populations, by targeting both physical health (clean air, soil, nutrition, places for play, recreation, education, physical activity, healthy homes) and mental health (nurturing, healing, protecting, wellness). As a result of these community initiatives, it became a socially, ethnically and economically vibrant neighborhood. Why did the residents put so much energy into revitalizing this area? The years of neglect and destruction from the city had created a form of loss and trauma that led to com126

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munity engagement. This was reinforced with the positive References A place connection and attachment to the neighborhood, not only as a motivator for the residents, but also a goal, meaning 1. Auzende JM (1971) Upper Miocene salt layer in the western Mediterranean. Nat Phys Sci 230:82-84 people were very attached to the “village” relations the 2. Borja J, et al. (2004) Urbanismo en el siglo XXI. UPC, Barcelona neighborhood had created, to the landmarks, and to the his- 3. Borja J, Castells M (1997) Local y global: la gestión de las ciudades en la tory of the area. As many of them stated, they “wanted to era de la globalización. Grupo Santillana Ediciones 4. Giner S (2004) Ciudad e historia en la Europa Meridional. Algunas reflexhave a say, at the local level, of the way our city is changed.”

Visit to CosmoCaixa: exhibit on the Medi­terranean and choral concert After the sessions in the IEC, the participants in the workshop went to the “CosmoCaixa” science museum to visit the exhibit “The Mediterranean as you’ve never seen it before”. Afterwards, to end the celebration of the 2014 InterScience Worshop, the choral “Cor de Músic”, under the direction of Manel Cubelles, interpreted several Medieval songs from the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat. (The 14th-century manuscript was compiled in and is still located at the monastery of Montserrat, Barcelona.) (Fig. 5).

iones sociológicas. La Ciudad Viva [ 5. Guerrero R, Berlanga M (2007) Microbis d’amor i mort. Omnis cellula 15:46-49 6. Guerrero R, Berlanga M (2014) Miracles i miratges. Mètode 81:106-107 7. Guerrero R, Berlanga M (2013) An integrate ecogenetic study of minimal B ecosystems: The microbial mats ofCEbro Delta and the Camargue (Western Mediterranean). Contrib Sci 9:117-139 8. Guerrero R, Berlanga M, Massana R (2012) Les microbiologies i els canvis de paradigmes. Treballs de la SCB 63:161-181 9. March H, Ribera-Fumaz R (2014) Smart contradictions: The politics of making Barcelona a Self-sufficient city. European Urban and Regional Studies. doi:10.1177/0969776414554488 10. Massey DS, Denton NA (1993) American Apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Harvard University Press 11. Nel·lo O (2004) Las grandes ciudades españolas en el umbral del siglo XXI. In Papers: Regió Metropolitana de Barcelona: Territori, strategies i planejament 42:9-62

Competing interests. None declared.

About the images on the first page of the articles in this issue. Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science, devoted to the activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH), show in their first page a reproduction of a trencadís, a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism, made from broken pieces of ceramics, like tiles and dinnerware. Those nine “broken tiles,” designed by the architect from Reus Antoni Gaudí, show multiple angles and views, reflecting the ever-changing reality around us. The AE-BKH believes that those images, created more than a century ago, represent appropriately the multiple aspects of the present academic world, both in science and humanities, which constitute one of the main objectives of the activities of the Barcelona hub. See also the article “Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus,” by R. Gomis and K. Katte, on pages 145-149 of this issue. This issue can be downloaded in ISSUU format and individual articles can be found at the journals’ repository of the Institute for Catalan Studies [;].


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2)117-127 (2016)

INTERSECTION WORKSHOPS AT THE AE-BKH Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Catalonia


CONTRIB SCI 12(2):129-140(2016) doi:10.2436/20.7010.01.253

Alexandria: History and culture Carmen Chica Academia Europaea-Barcelona Knowledge Hub

Trencadís (“broken tiles”) by Antoni Gaudí

Summary. Alexandria has been one of the most important cities throughout history. Born from the mixing of two of the major cultures of Antiquity―Greek and Egyptian―the city has been a melting pot allowing the development of human knowledge from its origins. It was the city where some renowned figures of the Antiquity, and recently several celebrated contemporaneous writers, worked. Hit by the hazards of the history, often violent, nowadays Alexandria seems to reborn, to become again a lighthouse for the science and humanities of the 21th century. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to remain watchful to overcome misunderstanding, intolerance and fanaticism, which threatens almost the entire planet Earth [Contrib Sci 12(2):129140 (2016)] Keywords: Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) · Hypatia (ca. 355– 415) · Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933) · Bibliotheca Alexandrina · Mediterranean Sea

Correspondence: Carmen Chica

There are cities that become destinations even before knowing them, walking their streets, exploring their nooks and crannies and contemplating their monuments or what is left of them. Art in all its forms has a lot to do with this as, alongside the memory of reality. Alexandria is one of those cities. A great deal of that essence is distilled in the works of Lawrence Durrell (1912–1990) and his Alexandria Quartet [1], Edward M. Forster’s (1879–1970) travel guides Alexandria: A History and Guide and Pharos and Pharillon [4], Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933) and his poetic works, and more recently

Terenci Moix (1942–2003) and his books devoted to Egypt and, especially, to Alexandria [8]. Plunged in the depths of the city, they left us a portrait of a city that they knowingly mythologized. But there are more, much more: historical characters who modelled the city with their fights and ambitions, but also their desire to establish a place that―beginning with an idealized Greek culture―could become a shared homeland for knowledge, in which philosophy and science could light up the known universe like a beacon, although this universe

This article is a contribution to the InterSection Workshop held at the Institute for Catalan Studies on 28 November 2014, as a part of the Disputatio of Barcelona 2014, devoted to “The Mediterranean, bridge of cultures”. See also Contrib Sci 11(1):59-74 (2015). ISSN (print): 1575-6343 e-ISSN: 2013-410X

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Fig. 1. Alexander the Great, a mosaic at the Naples National Archaelogical Museum.

was constrained mostly to the Greek one. Alexandria can boast of having sheltered and bequeathed to us a wealth of knowledge through well-known characters who belong to the universal philosophy, history and science. In the course of time and occurrences, Alexandria, either as a reality or as an idea, can once again relight the flame that defined it for centuries. In 2002, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated; what better achievement to attract and unfold what the best of human mind is capable of achieve?

Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) Alexander III of Macedon (Fig. 1), was born in Pella, Macedon and died in Babylon. He was very young when he succeeded his father Philip II of Macedon (382–336 BC), murdered by “friends”. Philip had ensured that his son received an exacting military preparation, although he did not neglect his son’s intellectual training, charged to Aristotle (384–322 BC), also a Macedonian. His short life was a constant and successful struggle against the Persian Empire. After the conquest of great parts of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, he proclaimed himself emperor and began new campaigns which were to make him the owner and master of Central Asia and what is now Afghanistan. He carried out currency unification, built highways and irrigation canals, and opened the doors to commercial development with geographic expeditions such as the descent of the Indus River and the Persian coast of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the mouths of the

Tigris and the Euphrates. The cultural fusion initiated by Alexander and continued by his successors imposed Greek knowledge and spirit (koiné) as the common language and thought. Alexander’s early death at 33 might have been due to malaria, although other causes have been suggested, including poisoning, and not excluding excesses in food and drink, quite usual at those times. The empire he created fell to pieces shortly afterwards. In the succession fights, Alexander’s wives and heirs died and the empire was divided among his generals (the Diadochi): Seleucus (359–281 BC), Ptolemy (267–283 BC), Antigonus (382–302 BC), Lysimachus (360–281 BC) and Cassander (ca. 350–297 BC). The resulting nations were the so-called Hellenistic States, which, for the following centuries, maintained Alexander’s ideal of transferring Greek culture to the East as eastern cultures were penetrating the Mediterranean [4].

Alexandria’s foundation: dream and reality The Greek presence in Egypt had been a constant for centuries. The country sheltered several well-established Greek colonies. By the 7th or 6th centuries BC, Naucratis, located 72 km southwest of Alexandria, was one of the first commercial Greek settlements. The Jewish community had settled in the area that later became Alexandria after Jerusalem was taken, in 586 BC, by Nebuchadnezzar II (ca. 634–562 BC), and possibly before. The Jews set up in the city protected by the pagan world’s 130

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tolerance for religious diversity, and created an intellectual focus with a centre for Hebrew studies. In 332 BC, Egypt was under Persian dominion, although about to fall, vanquished by the liberating troops of Alexander the Great. With some interruption, Egypt had been under Persian rule from 525 to 332 BC, and the last Persian period was marked by numerous insurrections until the arrival of Alexander. His success was due to his showing respect and tolerance towards Egyptian civilization, religion, gods and customs while maintaining his devotion to Greek culture and his zeal in propagating Hellenism [4,7]. In April 331 BC, Alexander reached the coast by going down the Nile. In the delta he chose the little fishing village of Rachotis to found the city that was to have his name. It was a very good choice because the place was sheltered from the river’s variations and close enough to allow for the arrival of merchandise to the port. The construction of the city of Alexandria was in charge of Alexander’s architect, Dinocrates of Rhodes (4th century BC). The nearby isle of Proteus, who was called Pharos, was joined to the city by a dike seven stadia long (1285 m) and was, therefore, known as the Heptastadium (Επτασταδίων). The construction of the dike gave rise to two ports, the Portus Magnus or great port, the most important of the old city, and the Portus Eunostos or port of good return, which is now the port of Alexandria. Ships from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic docked in the great port, with riches, commodities piled up on the wharves: bronze, tin, cotton, silks. The construction of the lighthouse was initiated after Alexander’s death by his successor Ptolemy I Soter, and finished by the latter’s son Ptolemy II Philadelphus on the isle of Pharos about 280 BC. Its architect was Sostrates of Cnidus. Two earthquakes, one in 1303 and another in 1323 destroyed the lighthouse. Underwater explorations in the last few years seem to confirm that many of the remains found at the bottom of the sea belong to the lighthouse. The place is occupied now by the Qaitbay fort, a robust and beautiful Arab construction of the 15th century built as defense and surveillance system. Dinocrates designed the city according to a hypodamic plan, a system which had been in use since the 5th century BC. This is an urban design characterized by a distribution of streets in straight lines that cross at right angles. Administratively, the city was divided into five districts given the names of the first five letters of the Greek alphabet (α, β, γ, δ, ε). Palaces were built along the coastline and public buildings in the centre [3]. But Alexander left Egypt to continue his fight against the Persians and died far away. His city which he never saw finished, became a prosperous


tropolis during the reign of his successors, the Ptolemies.

The Ptolemaic period (323–30 BC) After the fights following Alexander’s death in June 323 BC, Egypt was assigned to Ptolemy, son of Lagos, who reigned with the name Ptolemy I Soter. With the Ptolemies, mercenaries that had been part of the army of Alexander arrived from different places. With their families settled in the city and in the country, Persians, Syrians and Jews retained their own characters. Ptolemy I Soter showed some good qualities as a governor. Besides establishing political alliances, he set himself to the construction and improvement of communications and, most especially, to the magnificence of Alexandria. Apart from the great palace building, work began on the construction of the Musaeum (Μουσείον), which was to house the Library, a project entrusted to Demetrius of Phalerum (350– 280 BC) and which gathered all the knowledge of the time. In the centre of the city there were the Assembly, the squares, the markets, the religious centres, the baths, the gymnasiums, the stadiums and other public buildings necessary for the customs of the time. Some of these grandiose buildings were finished during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, responsible for the general aspect the city. Alexandria soon became the centre of Greek culture and contributed to the Hellenization of the rest of the country. The “Museion” was the greatest intellectual achievement of the dynasty It was an enormous edification with lecture halls, laboratories and anatomy wing, observatories, library, refectory, park and botanic and zoological gardens. The most important part was the Library. There, Alexandrian grammarians who determined the laws of rhetoric and grammar, geographers who designed maps of the world, and philosophers studied and investigated (Fig. 2). Characters as famous as Archimedes (ca. 287–ca. 212 BC), Euclid (ca. 330–ca. 270 BC), Hipparchus of Nicaea (ca. 190– ca. 120 BC); Aristarchus of Samos (310–230 BC); Eratosthenes (ca. 276–194 BC); Apollonius of Perga (ca. 262–ca. 190 BC), and many others were tightly connected to Alexandria (Fig. 2, Table 1).

The Roman period Julius Caesar (100–44 BC) took Alexandria in 46 BC, to end the dynastic war between Cleopatra (69–30 BC) and her brother and co-regent Ptolemy XIII (63–48 BC). There are data based on an estimate of Diodorus (90–30 BC) that by CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):129-140 (2016)


that time (60 BC), the population of Alexandria was about 300,000 inhabitants [10]. However, it appears that these data included only those who had the status of citizens and therefore slaves were excluded. Neither popular or low classes nor craftsmen classes enjoyed citizenship, although they were Egyptians. The whole population, besides Egyptians and Greeks, was formed by Macedonians, Phoenicians, Jews, Romans, Syrians, Persians, Arabs and visitors from other parts of the Middle East. Caesar attacked the city from the sea, and during the sea-battle a fire started that burned warehouses of books in the port. After assuring Cleopatra on the Egyptian throne, and married her off to her younger brother Ptolemy XIV (ca. 59–44 BC), Caesar returned to Rome where war broke out after his death. Marc Anthony (83–30 BC) travelled to Egypt

to get the queen’s support, but this only fuelled the conflict. Octavius (Caesar Augustus) (63 BC–14 AD) was proclaimed victor after the battle of Actium in 31 BC. Egypt was made a Roman province and became the Empire’s granary, increasing the importance of Alexandria. Later, the city became capital of the Roman diocese of Egypt, a prosperous and cosmopolitan metropolis with several hundred thousands of inhabitants, and also a financial centre. Imperial representation was in charge of a prefect who governed the country and was named by Rome. During the Roman period, the city went through wars, sackings and earthquakes. Natural catastrophes such as the earthquake in 365 made that a good part of the city disappeared under the waters. Religious power was represented by the patriarchs.

Table 1. Several scholars who developed all or part of their activities in Alexandria Name


Main contributions


ca. 330–ca. 270 BC

One of the great mathematician. His work Elements is a mathematical synthesis that includes theorems, constructions and mathematical proofs. He established that, for a point outside a line it is possible to draw only one parallel.

Herophilos of Chalcedon

335–ca. 255 BC

Founder of the medical school of Alexandria. Important anatomical discoveries. He described bloodstream and brain anatomy.

Aristarchus of Samos

310–230 BC

He advanced the heliocentric model and, consequently, was precursor to Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543). He devised a method to calculate the distances from Earth to the Sun and the Moon.

Eratosthenes of Cyrene

ca. 276–194 BC

Chief librarian of the Library. He measured the tilt of Earth’s axis, made geographic maps and made a precise measurement of the Earth’s circumference.

Hipparchus of Nicaea

ca. 190–ca. 120 BC

He is credited with the calculation of the precession of the equinoxes and the first catalog of stars classified by the magnitude of its brightness. Developed charts of the movements of the Moon and the Sun. He is considered the father of trigonomety.

Hero of Alexandria

ca. 10–ca. 70

He wrote on mechanics, mathematics and physics. He invented mechanical devices as the aeolipile (steam engine) and the dioptra (geodetic instrument). In pneumatics, he gives details of self-moved machines (which would be described today as “robots”) with performance by hydraulic pressure.

Claudius Ptolemy


His major work in 13 volumes known as Almagest had great influence in astronomy up to the Renaissance, with the figures of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) and Johannes Kepler (1571–1630).

Claudius Galen


In Alexandria, he learned anatomy and physiology. In Rome he was physician of Marco Aurelio (121– 180). He wrote many treatises and described the “Antonine plague” (smallpox or measles?), a pandemics that was spread in Rome by soldiers of the campaigns in the Near East.

Theon of Alexandría

ca. 335–ca. 405

Director of the Museum. His knowledge of astronomy and mathematics allowed him to write comments about the Almagest of Ptolemy, Euclid’s works and theories that combined astronomy and music. Father of Hypatia, who received his teaching and collaborated with him.

Hypatia of Alexandria

ca. 355–415

Mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. None of her works, Astronomical Canon, Commentary to Arthmetica by Diophantus nor the Conics of Apollonius have been preserved. She collaborated with her father on the comments on the Almagest. She is credited with the design or construction of an astrolabe and a hydroscope.

*Due to lack of data, there are discrepancies between authors on the years of birth and/or death of those scholars.


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Fig. 2. Erathosthenes’ estimation of the dimensions of the Earth. During the summer solstice he observed the sun shadow projected on two sites in Egypt (a gnomo in Alexandria and a pit in Aswan), distanced approximately 800 km and located in the same meridian. His calculation was rather accurate, taking into account the actual circularity of the planet, ca. 40,000 km. (Sketch by M. Berlanga.)

Once established Christianity, Egypt became the center of one of the most important Christian communities of the Empire. The Patriarch of Alexandria had the maximum prestige and influence, together with his counterparts in Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople and Rome. But Rome’s power in the hands of the prefect seemed conditioned by struggles and intrigues from the religious hierarchy. During the 4th and 5th centuries, the doctrinal conflicts and power struggles among the patriarchies, especially between Alexandria and Constantinople, were constant. As in other places, Christians in Alexandria suffered persecution in the early days of their faith until it was tolerated, spread across the Nile valley and, later, proclaimed official religion of the Roman Empire by Constantine I the Great (272–337). Theodosius I the Great (346–395) had made Catholic Christianity the religion of the state by the Edict of Thessalonica in 380, imposing Nicene orthodoxy. This provoked a reaction from both the pagans and the different interpretations of Christianity, all of them officially considered heresies to be prosecuted and eradicated. In the following decades, great controversies continued among the different factions of Christians, which became very violent. At the same time, neo-platonist philosophers, such as Hypatia,


were subject to great pressure. The Coptic Church came about as the result of a schism in which the Patriarch of Alexandria, Timothy Aelurus (?– 477), excommunicated the rest of the patriarchs in 457. Once separated from the rest of the patriarchies, Alexandria preserved Christian belief and doctrine in its oldest form, handing it down from generation to generation, according to the apostolic doctrine and rites.

Hypatia of Alexandria (ca. 355–415) Hypatia was born, lived and died in Alexandria. A year of birth initially proposed for 370 has been revised to 355. Her death happened in March 415 [2]. A member of the Neo-Platonist School, she stood out in philosophy, mathematics and astronomy and led an ascetic life. She formed a select school of Christian and pagan aristocrats, among them the philosopher Synesius of Cyrene (373–414), the grammarian Hesychius of Alexandria (4th century), and Orestes, prefect of Alexandria. Daughter and disciple of the astronomer Theon of Alexandria (ca. 335–ca. 405), also a prominent scholar, Hypatia wrote on geometry, algebra and astronomy, improved the design of CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):129-140 (2016)


a primitive astrolabe and invented a densimeter. She died at 45 or 60 (depending on the correct date of her birth), lynched by a mob in the framework of christian hostility against declining paganism and political struggles between different factions of the church, the Alexandrian patriarchate and imperial power, held in Egypt by the prefect Orestes (Fig. 3). Damascius (ca. 460–540), Neo-Platonist philosopher and last leader of the Athenian School, forbidden and shut down by Justinian I (483–565) in 529, said of Hypathia that she was fair and wise besides possessing the highest virtue in the art of teaching. Hypatia’s School. About the year 400 AD Hypatia became leader of the Alexandrian Neo-Platonists, centering her teaching on Plato (ca. 427–347 BC) and Aristotle. Her house was a school where students from all parts of the Roman world arrived, either pagan or Christian, attracted by her fame. Among them was Synesius of Cyrene (future Bishop of Ptolemaida, from 409 to 413). We have data on Hypatia thanks to his correspondence, both with her and with his fellow-students. Hypatia’s friends and disciples venerated her. Despite her paganism, she had the esteem and protection of these intellectual Christian elites. Orestes allowed himself to be advised by her in political and municipal affairs. Theophilus (?–412), Patriarch of Alexandria between 385 and 412, had as much influence among the city’s upper classes as Hypatia herself and had immense power. In 391 he ordered the destruction of the city’s pagan temples, among them the Mithraeum and the Serapeum, which caused bloody disturbances between pagans and Christians. Most of the 4th century had been full of bloody riots. Theophilus died on 17 October 412, and Cyril (ca. 370–ca. 444) reached the patriarchy. He continued Theophilus’ policies, i.e., pressure against pagans, heretics and Jews, support to the great monastic communities, cultivating the alliance with Rome and opposition to the growing influence of the Patriarchy of Constantinople, intimately allied to the imperial throne. Different acts, such as the Patriarch’s persecution of the Novatians, caused confrontation and hostility between Theophilus and Orestes, the prefect (maximum imperial military authority) on the city. There were also riots against the Jews during those years. Although Orestes wished to protect them, after a series of extremely violent riots, Cyril expelled the Jews. The rupture between the Patriarch and the imperial representative was complete. Hypatia had been “respected” during the frequent disturbances between pagans and Christians in Theophilus’ days, even during the destruction of the temples and sculptures of the gods. But when Cyril rose to the patriarchy, everything changed.

Death of Hypatia. It seems that a rumour began to spread among the Christians of Alexandria that the cause of the discord between Cyril and Orestes was the influential Hypatia. During Lent, a group threw itself on the philosopher while she was in her carriage. The historian closest to the facts, Socrates Scholasticus (ca. 380–450), does not make Cyril directly responsible but does link him to the murder of Hypatia [5]. In his own words: “envy sharpened its arms against her… as she quite often met with Orestes; this caused against her, in the Christian community, the calumny that it was she herself who did not allow Orestes to approach friendship with the bishop” [5]. And so some belligerent individuals led by Peter, a reader, conspired to stalk the woman when she was coming home from somewhere: “they dragged her out of her litter and hauled her to the church called Caesareum and, after stripping her, they killed her with pot shards, quartered her limbs and took her to the place named Cynaron, where they set fire to them” [5]. Christopher Haas concludes that, with the available sources, it is not possible to know if it was Cyril who organized the attack, or if his followers took the initiative as they had done in a previous attack on Orestes. María Dzielska, however, notes that even if Cyril was not directly responsible of the crime, he did instigate the campaign against her, to fight the imperial prefect and his political faction, contrary to the Patriarchy [2]. No works by Hypatia have been preserved: instruments, designs, and writings. All we know of them, and of her life, we know from her contemporaries, mainly the correspondence of Synesius and the Suda enciclopædia. Synesius attributes to Hypatia the invention of the astrolabe, although earlier astrolabes preceded Hypatia’s model and her own father was famous for his treatise on them. In fact, in the 2nd century, Claudius Ptolemy (90–168 AD) wrote his 13-volume work, the Almagest, in which astronomical explanations, descriptions of astral positions, and the calculations for the construction of the astrolabe appear. Later, Hypatia and her father worked to correct the calculations in the Almagest and the first astrolabe (Figs. 3).

Muslim Egypt The conquest of Egypt by the Muslims under Amr ibn al-As (?–663) starting in 641 had several periods until it was definitely installed in 646, and Alexandria was still one of the major Mediterranean metropolises. An inventory attributed to the commander Amr ibn al-As [4], on entering the city, and sent to Caliph Umar ibn al-Jattab (581–644), describes that he found 134

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Fig. 3. The School of Athens, one of the most famous frescoes that Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio, 1483–1520) and his school made for the Pontifical Palace in the Vatican between 1509 and 1511. While art historians had generally accepted that the figure wearing in white and standing behind Pythagoras represented Francesco Maria della Rovere, a nephew of Pope Julius II, other more modern scholars, mainly mathematicians, have considered that an illustration evoking Alexandria between the 4th centuries BC and AD (Ptolemy and Euclid are represented there) should include also Hypatia, and have identified her with the figure in the square [Abbott KS, Abbott S (2011) Conjecture and proof: A case of shifting identities in Raphael's School of Athens. In: Sarghangi R, S'equin C (eds) Proceedings of Bridges: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture. Tessellations Publ., Phoenix, Arizona, pp 527-530].

in Alexandria “4000 palaces, 4000 baths, 12,000 oil merchants, 12,000 gardeners, 40,000 Jews and 400 theatres and places for entertainment”. Ibn al-Qifti (ca. 1172–ca. 1248) asserts in his Chronicle of the wise that the Great Library was destroyed at that moment, but that was not so. Although the Arabs destroyed many books, neither the Great Library nor the smaller Serapeum library existed at that time, they having disappeared because of the civil wars between Romans, natural disasters and fanaticism of the different doctrines. An Byzantine fleet landed in Alexandria at the beginning of 645 to re-conquer Egypt, but that army was defeated by the superior Arab forces, and in the end retreated. After a new, long siege, the Arabs took the city for the third time in 646, destroying it mostly to avoid the Byzantines entrenching themselves by way of the sea. This was the end of 975 years of Alexandria’s belonging to the Greco-Latin world [7]. After a long decline, Alexandria had a rebirth as a great metropolis during the Crusades and enjoyed a flourishing period thanks to commerce. In 1365 the city was taken and sacked by the Crusaders led by king Peter of Cyprus (1328– 1369). It was to become the centre of spice distribution until the Portuguese opened the Cape route in 1498, which


marked a commercial decline, aggravated by the Turkish invasion. When in July 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) entered the city, what he found was a semi-ruined town of only 7,000 inhabitants. Mehmet Ali (ca. 1769–1849) reconstructed it in the 19th century, turning it once again into the great Egyptian port. The 11th of June 1882, a xenophobe movement exploded in Alexandria which extended to other cities in the Nile Delta, and during which some 200 foreigners were murdered. The people as well as the army, were annoyed at foreign interference—England, France, Turkey—mainly due to financial and political problems. The conflict had its origin in the arrival of English and French ships at the port of Alexandria to oppose a coup against their governor, the Khedive Tewfik Pasha (1852– 1892) who, in fact, had been named under the influence of foreign countries. The British fleet bombed the port in July 1882, which caused a great fire and the sacking of the ruins by the population. The later landing of a large British army restored order, giving rise to the British protectorate over Egypt in September that same year, a situation that was kept up until 1946. The step from kingdom CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):129-140 (2016)


to republic was taken after a coup d’état in 1952 and the proclamation of Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918–1970) as president in 1953.

Father Nile The Nile is fed by two major tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile. The White Nile, which originates in Rwanda, runs through the great African lakes, flowing north from Lake Victoria. The Blue Nile starts in Ethiopia, in Lake Tana, and flows through southern Sudan. Both White and Blue join in Khartoum, in the south of the Great Rift Valley. The total length of the river is about 6800 km and for many years has been considered the largest river in the world. In recent times, this category seems to be discussed in favor of the Amazon. The Nile empties its water and sediment into the Mediterranean, forming one of the largest deltas covering an area of about 22,000 km2. Woodward et al. state that the course of the Nile is submitted to the influence of the large structures, either natural or artificial, including dams, faults and geological contacts [13]. This fact is common to all large rivers. The coastal zone of the Nile Delta goes from Alexandria to Port Said, a distance of 240 km. The current configuration of the Nile dates from the Cenozoic Era. It is suggested that initially there could have been a number of separate continental basins, each taking one of the main Sudanese cracks, including the White Nile and Blue Nile cracks. The basins would not be interconnected until the sinking was concluded and sediments could fill the basins. The search for the sources of the Nile inspired imagination and action of explorers that did not hesitate to undertake the adventure despite difficult conditions, both natural and sociopolitical because of the authorities and governments, kings, hierarchs and native populations of the surrounding. Two persons are considered the first Europeans to have reached these sources. One of them is the missionary Pedro Páez (1564���������������������������������������� –��������������������������������������� 1622), a Spanish Jesuit that after suffering a long captivity in Arabia went to Ethiopia, reaching its objective, Lake Tana and Blue Nile, around 1621. The second one was James Bruce (1730–1794), a Scottish that served as British consul in Algiers. This was the starting point for his passion as an explorer: he arrived in Alexandria in 1768 on his own, and with great difficulty, like his predecessors, proposed himself to reach the sources of the Blue Nile, which he would reach around 1770. Since millennia, landslides have been pushing ahead the immense wetlands forming the Delta. The ancients knew of seven or more arms of which two remain near Rosetta and

About the author Carmen Chica (Malaga, Spain, 1948). Psychologist. Autonomous University of Barcelona (1978), Master in Science Communication (2000). Management of research projects and scientific exchange. Translator of books and articles of history and philosophy of science. Author of a book of education psychology (Ed. Herder) and of articles on culture and science for the public as well as book-reviews. Author-editor of a book about Lynn Margulis. Organizer of international scientific meetings. Member of the team of the Catalan Foundation for Science and Innovation (2000– 2011) for activities focused on science dissemination like Science week, promotion of scientific and technical studies, like the program Enginycat, and European projects for science dissemination. Managing coordinator of the journal International Microbiology and editor-collaborator of Contributions to Science. Lover of animals.

Damietta. Rosetta—the Delta city where the famous stone was found with an engraving text in Demotic, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek—, was threatened after the construction of the Aswan Dam, which interrupted the regular supply of Nile silt. Various projects were undertaken to find solutions. Otherwise, life in Egypt and Sudan without the Nile would not have been possible. Two authors, Alan Morehead [9] and William Golding [6] wrote their experiences traveling along the Nile. Morehead emphasizes the poetic vision in the description of the river and its landscape, even in the most adverse situations. Golding offers a perspective that covers his journey down the Nile 136

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Contrib Sci


Fig. 4. (A) Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933). (B) The grave of Constantine Cavafy in the Greek cemetery of Alexandria. A special and emotional visit to the scene evoking the poet and his poems by representatives from the Institute for Catalan Studies, directed by Ricard Guerrero, and from the Autonomus University of Barcelona, directed by Pere Villalba. (The author of this article is the second woman from the left.) (Photograph by M. Piqueras.)

recalling his trip honestly and humorously, and shares his feelings about Egypt’s past and present. Despite the 20-years difference between both works, the sound impression produced on both authors was the same.

Egypt and Alexandria today In 2013, the population of Egypt was estimated to be about 84 million, with a density of 84 inhabitants/km2. The two main cities are Cairo and Alexandria, with about 11 and 4.5 million inhabitants respectively. Egyptian economy is based on agriculture, mainly cotton, livestock, rice, and other products. It has deposits of oil and gas. Tourism is a major source of income for the country. The Nile River runs nearly 1600 km through Egyptian territory and represents the most important contribution to agriculture. There are more than sixty universities in the country, either public or private teaching and doing research in virtually all scientific, technological and humanistic disciplines. Notable is the Egyptian presence in the literature with famous authors, Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006) being the highlight to have received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, but there are many others. The Alexandria of the 21st century is a modern city that still has its hypodamic layout. It is a commercial centre, hub of textile and chemical industries, mechanical and naval construction and banking centre. The construction of the Aswan Dam in 1964 gave Lake Nasser, a vast reservoir with


a maximum water level of 183 m over sea level. In 1978 another canal was built, which was given the name Sadat, NW of Lake Nasser through Wadi Toshka. The idea was that levels of water higher than 178 m, which had given rise to the formation of several lakes, were to drain into a depression at the southern end of the Eocene’s limestone plateau. At the end of 1990, water began to flow through Sadat Canal in the Western Desert. With a length of 320 km from its origin to the lakes in the Toshka valley, it continues through the Sahara Desert connecting several oases, diverting a total of 10% of the Nile’s water. The project considered allowing for irrigating a surface of near 5000 km2. To solve the problems derived from large losses due to evaporation, the canal was lined with layers of cement, sand, concrete and polymer. The water from Lake Nasser does not fall naturally into the canal, but must be pumped from the Mubarak Pumping Station, north of Abu Simbel.

Constantine Cavafy and Alexandria Many artists and scientists, from painters, sculptors and musicians, to architects and engineers, have lived and worked in that inspiring city. It is enough here to mention the four most significant for modern literature: Cavafy, Forster, Durrell and Moix. Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933) was born and died in Alexandria―he was the youngest of seven brothers―Cavafy is considered to be the best modern Greek poet, his family’s CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):129-140 (2016)



Fig. 5. Two views of the modern Library of Alexandrina. (From the booklet Bibliotheca Alexandrina, published by the institution itself.)

nationality. He was nine years old when, after the death of his father, a cotton trader exporter, the family moved to the UK, to Liverpool and London. He also lived in Constantinople, where his mother was born, and definitely in Alexandria from 1885 on. His father’s business problems and premature death diminished the family’s economic situation. A civil service position, which he kept all his life, allowed him to live on that income and have a reasonable retirement (Fig. 4). In his lifetime he did not achieved fame as a poet, although he was known in the Greek cultural environment. He never published a book, only notebooks or libretti with his poems, which he himself sent to those he considered could understand them. His international recognition came about because of his friendship with Edward M. Forster, during Forster’s stay in Alexandria. Lawrence Durrell also contributed to Cavafy’s fame in his “Alexandria Quartet” [1]. Perfectionist to the bone, he composed poems on the decadence that often follows great historical periods, reflected in God abandons Anthony or Ithaca, both written in 1911, and Awaiting the barbarians (1904). His erotic poems have also regained interest, singing as they do about the sensuality of furtive love (he did not denied his homosexuality), such as Remember, body.... (1918). In these poems, he reflects on weakness, sexual attraction often linked to Christian feelings of guilt and the fear of the passing of time. He contributed to the rebirth of modern Greek, although his poems were not published until 1948, with the 154 canon poems. The English version of these poems was published in 1951. Cavafy was especially interested in the Greek reigns after Alexander, the subjection to Rome, Byzantium, the rise of Christianity and how pagans and Christians had lived together. He thought that, as Greeks believed, history is cyclical, and fills his evocations with feelings of nostalgia and fear of the unknown.

He underwent a tracheotomy in 1932 because of larynx cancer, and died the following year. He is buried in the Greek cemetery of Alexandria, next to his mother and brothers (Fig. 4).

The Library Begun along with the Museion, toward 290 BC, under the orders of Ptolemy I Soter (367–283 BC) after a proposal from Demetrius of Phalerum (350–280 BC), it was completed by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (data uncertain). He added an annex to the Serapeum and furnished with almost 44,000 volumes. Demetrius himself managed to collect some 200,000 volumes and it is estimated, although the numbers vary, that the Great Library could have contained 400,000–700,000 rolls. Stories or legends, or some combination of the two, tell that every ship landing at Alexandria was searched and, if a book was found, it was confiscated and after being copied it was registered and the copy returned to the owner. The same was done with single travelers. This fact is attributed to Ptolemy III Euergetes (ca. 282–222 BC). The Alexandria Library attained the highest prestige as a centre of knowledge of ancient times. Scholars from all over the Mediterranean arrived to carry out investigations and plunge into studies of philosophy and the sciences (mathematics, geometry, astronomy). The memory of the Library survived its destruction and disappearance as it was a standard for knowledge. The Musaeum, or “shrine of the Muses”, was the equivalent to research center of the ancient world, and the Library, the first entity with global reach. The position of the librarian was one of the highest ranks and was named directly by the king. An important task done in the Library was translation. It 138

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Contrib Sci

Fig. 6. Group representing the Institute for Catalan Studies and the Autonomous University of Barcelona that were received at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, on 31 December 2003, by members of the Library. Among the group, Mostafa El-Abbadi (standing, fifth person from the right), a leading figure in the project, execution and functioning of the Bibliotheca. Lynn Margulis is the woman with the red shirt.

was in Alexandria where the first translation of the Old Testament was carried out, from Hebrew to Koine Greek, what is known as the Septuagint. The destruction of the Library has never been cleared up and sources are inconsistent. It has been said and also refuted that, during the course of one of his naval battles, in 48 BC, Caesar torched the Alexandrian fleet, whose flames extended to land, burned the Musaeum and the Library; but there is no certainty, though obviously damage would be produced. Emperor Theodosius prohibited, in 391, non-Christian religions, and Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria between 385 and 412, destroyed the Serapeum and the Library annex, as he considered them nests of pagan doctrine. It has been said that the Library of Alexandria represents one of the most ambitious projects in Antiquity. Gathering, coding and organizing universal knowledge and making it available to scholars, thus allowing the meeting of cultures, meant a manifestation of openness of spirit, tolerance and respect, together with a logic that promoted discussion and the search for knowledge.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina: here and now Established with the intention to be a worthy successor to the ancient Library, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is located in a privileged place, opposite the Corniche facing the Mediterranean, in a magnificent building of eleven plants (Fig. 5). Recent archaeological studies suggest that this location is close to that of the ancient Library. It comprises also a conference center, a science museum, a planetarium, a study center and


phy Institute and Museum. It covers an area of 85,000 m2 and houses 8 million books, 100,000 ancient manuscripts and 10,000 rare books, as well as electronic, audiovisual material and databases. The international community, through Unesco, funded the revival project of the ancient Library of Alexandria. Unesco, under the direction of Federico Mayor Zaragoza, organized a contest in 1987 in which numerous architectural centers participated. In the words of its first and current director, Ismail Serageldin, we must say that carrying out this project was making a dream come true, and this dream cannot be just the construction of a building, but also the pursuit of the ideal that inspired its creation, converting the Library into an ecumenical centre of knowledge. Today, we must add the current need for respect and acknowledgement of the contributions of the cultures that enrich the world and, again in the words of its director, “a centre for dialogue between people and civilizations”. Construction began in 1995, and in August 2001 the first book was placed in one of the shelves. The official inauguration took place on 23 April 2002, the International Day of the Book. Ismail Serageldin was appointed Director General. Besides a Ph.D. in sociology and economics, Prof. Serageldin has extensive experience in environmental issues and sustainability studies. On 3 July 2014 he gave a lecture in Barcelona, in the series “La Ciutadella, the first science park in Barcelona”, coorganized by the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona and the Barcelona Zoo. “See the world, know thyself” was the title of his lecture, in which he dealt with the social and scientific challenge of museums and heritage institutions and knowledge. In its presentation, the new Library states its purpose as “a center of excellence for the production and dissemination of CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):129-140 (2016)


knowledge, and to be a place of dialogue and understanding between cultures and people.” As a symbol and as a reality, it is beautiful that Bibliotheca Alexandrina may be the meeting point of cultures and civilizations, past and present, most of which have as a cradle the calm waters of the Mediterranean. In December 2003, a team consisting of fourteen people, including Ricard Guerrero on behalf of the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC), and commissioned by Federico Mayor Zaragoza, visited the new Library of Alexandria (Fig. 6). Previously, the members of the group had contacted the responsible of the Library, who organized a private guided tour and introduced them to Mostafa El-Abbadi, a man of great knowledge that has played a significant role in the project, development and functioning of the Bibliotheca. In addition to visiting the various museus in the premises of the Library, the visitors had the opportunity to know the internal parts, facilities, offices, administration, and were given detailed explanations about the functioning of the institution, as well as historical information and data. Especially moving was listening, directly from Mostafa ElAbbadi, the effort made for the “recovery” of the Library. It involved a huge effort to have the collaboration of experts in the history of the ancient library, the city and of the country, to discuss the appropriateness of the project, both with those who agreed, and with those who for various reasons did not agree. The magnitude of such an initiative and its purpose had to be tackled internationally and Unesco would be the appropriate institution. One of the members of the group in this trip was Lynn Margulis, the renowned North-American biologist who, besides her extraordinary knowledge and contribution to science, has been an example of an open mind and encouragement to attract young people and adults into the adventure of knowledge and its dissemination. It was her first and only visit to Egypt and she was asked to sign some of her books that she donated to the Library. Lynn Margulis passed away in full intellectual youth, 73-years old, on 22 November 2011. Ricard Guerrero, on behalf of the IEC, donated several books and documents. Science, inserted in culture, is a bridge that approaches and joins distances, and makes it

through the contribution of so many people, past and present, who have bequeathed to the society a precious good treasure, the fruit of their knowledge and wisdom. On this Mediterranean shore where the Nile abandon its water, Alexandria wakes every morning to the chant of the muezzin calling to prayer. The far-distant traces of so many who shaped its history and made up our culture remains intact, perhaps increased by the gaze and the poetry of those who centuries later captured the essence of a city that had sheltered the wisdom of all times. And while it was wise, it was rich in the most outstanding talents. Never again should intransigence It would be fervently desirable that never again intransingence bury, under water and sand, the overhelming memory of stones, papyrus and parchments, and everlasting ideas. Acknowledgements. Author thanks the collaboration of Sandra Young, Mercè Berlanga, Ricard Guerrero, and Mercè Piqueras, from the journal International Microbiology, in the preparation and final form of this article. Competing interests. None declared.

References 1. Durrell L (1957–1960) The Alexandria Quartet. Faber & Faber, London 2. Dzielska M (2004) Hipatia de Alejandria. Ediciones Siruela, Madrid 3. El-Abbadi M (1992) Life and fate of the ancient Library of Alexandria. Unesco, Paris, 2nd ed 4. Forster EM (2008) Alejandría historia y guía. Almed, Granada 5. García Romero FA (2013) Venerable Hipatia. El testimonio de Sócrates Escolástico (HE VII 15). Asidonense 8 6. Golding W (1986) Diario egipcio. Ediciones del Serbal, Barcelona 7. Iskander Z, Badawy A (1965) Brief history of ancient Egypt. 5th ed. Madkour Press, Cairo 8. Moix T (1986) No digas que fue un sueño. Editorial Planeta, Barcelona 9. Moorehead A (1986) El Nilo Azul. Ediciones del Serbal, Barcelona 10. Piqueras M (2004) La Bibliotheca Alexandrina, far de la cultura del segle XXI. Avui 31.1.2004:34 11. Reverte J (2001) Dios, el diablo y la aventura. Plaza & Janés, Barcelona 12. Stanley DJ, Wame AG (1993) Nile Delta: recent geological evolution and human impact. Science 260:628-634 13. Woodward JC, Macklin MG, Krom MD, Williams MAJ (2007) The Nile: Evolution, quaternary river environments and material fluxes. In Gupta A (ed) Large rivers: Geomorphology and management. John Wiley & Sons, London

About the images on the first page of the articles in this issue. Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science, devoted to the activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH), show in their first page a reproduction of a trencadís, a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism, made from broken pieces of ceramics, like tiles and dinnerware. Those nine “broken tiles,” designed by the architect from Reus Antoni Gaudí, show multiple angles and views, reflecting the ever-changing reality around us. The AE-BKH believes that those images, created more than a century ago, represent appropriately the multiple aspects of the present academic world, both in science and humanities, which constitute one of the main objectives of the activities of the Barcelona hub. See also the article “Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus,” by R. Gomis and K. Katte, on pages 145-149 of this issue. This issue can be downloaded in ISSUU format and individual articles can be found at the journals’ repository of the Institute for Catalan Studies [;].


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):129-140 (2016)

INTERSECTION WORKSHOPS AT THE AE-BKH Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Catalonia


CONTRIB SCI 12(2): 141-144 (2016) doi:10.2436/20.7010.01.254

Barcelona Dialogue: A Collaborative Project between Northeastern University, Boston and the AE-BKH Xavier Costa-Guix Professor of Architecture and Design, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Member of the Council of the Academia Europaea

Trencadís (“broken tiles”) by Antoni Gaudí

Summary. The Collaborative Project “Barcelona Dialogue: Creativity, Innovation and Design” established betwen Northeastern University and the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH) has offered students of 15 different disciplines, and of 11 different nationalities an introduction to contemporary achievements in design, the creative fields and the creativity economy in the Barcelona context. The first edition of the “Barcelona Dialogue” has taken place during the Summer of 2016 (July 4–July 24) in different locations of Barcelona, with lectures held in the site of the AE-BKH, at the impressive mid17th century building of the Institute for Catalan Studies. [Contrib Sci 12(2):141-144 (2016)] Keywords: Northeastern University · Barcelona Knowledge Hub · Dialogue cooperative project · Creativity, Innovation and Design · Architecture university teaching

Correspondence: Xavier Costa-Guix E-mail:

A first edition of the Collaborative Project “Barcelona Dialogue: Creativity, Innovation and Design” has taken place during the Summer of 2016 (July 4–July 24) in different locations of Barcelona and in the unique spaces of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AEBKH) at the former Casa de Convalescència (Convalescence ISSN (print): 1575-6343 e-ISSN: 2013-410X

House) of the former Hospital of the Saint Cross (presently, the Library of Catalonia), which is the site of the Institute for Catalan Studies (Fig. 1). This Barcelona Dialogue has offered students of 15 different disciplines, and of 11 different nationalities an introduction to contemporary achievements in design, the creative fields and the creativity economy in CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):141-144 (2016)

©M. Berlanga

Barcelona Dialogue

Fig. 1. Convalescence House (Casa de Convalescència) of the Hospital of the Saint Cross.

the Barcelona context. Additionally, the program benefitted from partnerships with the Mies van der Rohe Foundation and the Enric Miralles Foundation, both located in Barcelona (Fig. 2). Northeastern University is an institution founded in 1898 in Boston, Massachusetts. In a city distinguished by its many and respected universities, Northeastern has differentiated itself from its very beginnings by its focus on experiential learning. This philosophy of higher education is based on the pedagogical premise that a complete education requires a diversity of experiences, some strictly academic within the boundaries of the traditional campus, together with other experiences of a diverse nature, ranging from professional practice, to community service, and institutional collaboration, all at a global scale. Experiential learning draws from the latent synergies between social progress, innovation and scholarly research. The “Barcelona Dialogue” has been conceived within this pedagogical framework. Barcelona is a city that has strongly believed in the transformative power of design. As a 19th-century industrial center, Barcelona’s entrepreneurial class fostered a dramatic expansion of the existing city through Ildefons Cerdà’s (1815– 1876) new Eixample (Expansion) section of the city, where a disruptive architecture emerged in the work of Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), Lluís Domènech (1850–1923) i Muntaner (1850–1923) and Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867–1953), to only mention some of the most recognized architects and designers. The city and its industrialist elite also supported an unprecedented and diverse creativity in many fields, ranging from graphic design to literature, from the visual arts to technology. Our students were introduced to these

many faces of the city in its recent history, and also to the role that creativity plays today, an essential force behind this Mediterranean city’s culture, economy, and international projection. Creativity is also one of the essential forces driving forward modern societies. Design Thinking, the central concept of this program, is a term coined by British designer Tim Brown in relation to his work at the consultancy IDEO, and also to his academic collaboration with Stanford University in California. At Stanford, Brown proposed that all undergraduate students take an introductory course on design methodology and strategy, an initiative that has been fully implemented. Design Thinking proposes a method of problem solving based on experimentation, interdisciplinary collaboration, iterative process, prototype-based exploration, and experience design. Contemporary design has been rapidly changing the world we live in. From the spaces we inhabit to the clothes we wear, from sustainable environments to data visualization, design is reshaping the way we think, the processes of making, and the cultures of interacting with products and systems. The seminar looked at the evolution of design and design thinking during the last few decades, with a focus on the present and immediate future of disruptive creativity. We studied how design methodologies translate into business models, into new forms of communication and problem solving with high emotional and intellectual impact. We have examined the work of designers that have successfully doubled as entrepreneurs in different fields, such as visual communication, fashion, product design, architectural


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):141-144 (2016)

©X. Costa


Fig. 2. The program benefitted from partnerships with the Mies van der Rohe Foundation and the Enric Miralles Foundation, both located in Barcelona .

innovation, gastronomy, or applied technology. Topics of the seminar included the writings of Walter Benjamin on mechanical reproductivity; Nikolaus Pevsner on the pioneers of modern design and architecture; Sigfried Giedion’s research on the impact of industry and mechanization on designers, and Reyner Banham’s concept of design within a “second machine age.” Among recent contributions, we worked with the writings of Tim Brown on “design change”; Manuel Castells on the network society; William McDonough on sustainable design; Rem Koolhaas on “generic cities”, and Richard Florida on the rise of the creative class. Dr. Suzanne Strum offered a seminar on Design Innovation that referred to several case studies, based on designbased companies, Dr. Kathrin Golda-Pongratz, a member of Academia Europaea and professor at the Frankfurt University of Technology, lectured on recent transformations of public


spaces in the city of Barcelona, and Dr. Xavier Costa-Guix offered an introduction to the urban development and transformation of the city. Students also worked on a creative project using photography and visual documentation. This studio was led by artist and photographer Diego Ferrari, a professor at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and a collaborator at Elisava School of Design and Engineering, a school which is ascribed to University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. This photographic project was based on the German Pavilion designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the Barcelona International Exhibition of 1929, and reconstructed in 1986. Students were able to develop preparatory work and final presentations in the spaces of the Enric Miralles Foundation, within the Miralles-Tagliabue (EMBT) architecture studio, in the historic center of the city. The students also enjoyed different ludic and cultural

CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):141-144 (2016)

© Jordi Pereto

Barcelona Dialogue

Fig. 3. Night concert of classic music at the cloister of the Convalescence House (Casa de Convalescència), the site of the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC). On the upper right, students and professors of the program with the president of the IEC, Prof. Joandomènec Ros (center). The rain, that that summer night excepcionally felt also on the Barcelona plain, could not prevent the brave students to attend the concert, after, indeed, taking shelter in the cloister arcades.

activities, one of the most remembered among them was the night concert of classic music at the cloisters of the Convalescence House (Casa de Convalescència), the site of the Institute for Catalan Studies, a Baroque palace built in mid-17th-century (Fig. 3). Both academic and cultural activities of the Barcelona Dialogue Project of Northeastern University perfectly harmonized with the main interests of the AE-BKH that aims to the promotion of activities of interest for the

scientific community of the region, with special emphasis on multidisciplinary scientific activities that include the perspective of the natural and social sciences and the humanities. The AE-BKH’s goal is to contribute to the consolidation of a genuine European area of innovation, research, and education, especially in the Mediterranean and southern Europe. Competing interests. None declared.

About the images on the first page of the articles in this issue. Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science, devoted to the activities of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea (AE-BKH), show in their first page a reproduction of a trencadís, a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism, made from broken pieces of ceramics, like tiles and dinnerware. Those nine “broken tiles,” designed by the architect from Reus Antoni Gaudí, show multiple angles and views, reflecting the ever-changing reality around us. The AE-BKH believes that those images, created more than a century ago, represent appropriately the multiple aspects of the present academic world, both in science and humanities, which constitute one of the main objectives of the activities of the Barcelona hub. See also the article “Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus,” by R. Gomis and K. Katte, on pages 145-149 of this issue. This issue can be downloaded in ISSUU format and individual articles can be found at the journals’ repository of the Institute for Catalan Studies [;].


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):141-144 (2016)

PERSPECTIVES Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Catalonia


CONTRIB SCI 12(2):145-149 (2016) doi:10.2436/20.7010.01.255

Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926): The Manuscript of Reus Ramon Gomis, Kimberly Katte IDIBAPS, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Catalonia

Trencadís (“broken tiles”) by Antoni Gaudí

Summary. Many of Gaudí’s original documents (writings, drawings, etc.) were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) when riots erupted in the architect’s studio located inside the Sagrada Família temple in Barcelona. Fortunately, surviving documents had been relocated long before to other places by architect Domènech Sugrañes Gras (1878–1938). Among those documents rescued was Gaudí’s notebook, also known as El manuscrit de Reus (The Manuscript of Reus), rediscovered by Catalan architect Cèsar Martinell (1888– 1973) during the preparation of his book, Gaudí. His life, his theory, his work, published in 1967. [Contrib Sci 12(2):145-149 (2016)] Keywords: Gaudí, Antoni (1852–1926) · Manuscript of Reus · Modernism

Correspondence: Ramon Gomis

Something new about Gaudí: the art of transformation It is hard to say something new about this man, this worldrenowned genius whose work has been studied and celebrated by so many. However, it is also true that, for as much that is written about something or someone, there will always be something new to explore and to learn. This stems from an eagerness to get to the heart of a figure of such a ISSN (print): 1575-6343 e-ISSN: 2013-410X

category. In the case of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (Reus or Riudoms, June 25, 1852–Barcelona, June 10, 1926), each new book, biography or study of his life uncover a different facet of his personality and provides new knowledge about him, but, at the same time, opens further doubts, creates additional questions, and piques greater curiosity. This is rewarding both for those who merely admire his work from a distance, as well as for those who delve into his work and deeply appreciate its brilliance. CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):145-149 (2016)

© Educa puzzles

The Manuscript of Reus

Drawings composition of the main architectural works of Antoni Gaudí in the city of Barcelona.

An architect’s designs are the best representation of his own personality. Even for experts on Gaudí, his handwriting and verbal and written correspondence offer new insight into his personality, sense of life and maturity reached with years and experience. Unfortunately, his life was tragically shortened. He was 73-year-old when he suffered a streetcar accident on June 9, 1926, which resulted in his death three days later in a ward of the old Hospital de la Santa Creu, Barcelona. However, Gaudí’s life and career were long enough to leave an extraordinary legacy, both in terms of monuments and followers. Thus, his disciples could continue working not only as a continuation of their master’s work, but also by providing and applying numerous architectural concepts of their own that complete and complement their collective work. Today, mentioning Modernism in Catalonia, its origins and manifestations around the world, undoubtedly recalls the

works of Gaudí and his contemporaries, Lluís Domènech i Montaner (1850–1923), Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867–1956) and Josep Maria Jujol i Gibert (1879–1949), alongside many other disciples and followers. A document key for understanding the idiosyncrasies of this artist is his notebook, happily recovered and whose facsimile edition is preserved in the Municipal Museum of Reus, his hometown. Lluís Miquel Pérez i Segura (former Mayor of Reus), Jaume Massó Carballido (currently an archaeologist at the Salvador Vilaseca Museum of Archaeology) and Joan Bassegoda Nonell,who served as President of the Friends of Gaudí Association, co-wrote a booklet with useful and insightful comments on the Manuscript (facsimile edition) that assist in drawing a portrait of the famous architect. With a beautiful prose these authors reveal their own thoughts on reading the Manuscript and how it affirms several well-known aspects of the architect’s character and work. The booklet also presents drawings and several sketches by Gaudí, including one for the Spanish Pavilion at the Centennial International Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876, and another of the showcase of the Catalan glove maker Esteve Comella for the World Fair in Paris (1878), scrawled on the back of one of Gaudí’s business cards. The Manuscript contains Gaudí’s notes between 1873 and 1879. As indicated by Pérez Segura, its interest lies in the unique opportunity that the Manuscript offers to observe the architect’s handwriting and to appreciate the most remarkable facets of his character, evident in his notes. The drawings featured in its pages also foreshadow what would later appear in some of his greatest works. The notes, texts, drawings and plans contained in the Manuscript cover the time from when Gaudí was a student to months after graduating from the School of Architecture in 1878. Among the few surviving original documents written by the architect, the Manuscript is wider in scope and more diverse in content. Specifically, there are nine pages featuring a variety of sketches of items including: a solar clock; organic motifs; the aforementioned Comella showcase; human figures appearing to be angels; a capital alongside notes on both decimal and sexagesimal numeral systems; congruent shapes; a series of floors, probably within a hospital, as the caption reads Boston Free Hospital; the faint outline of the façade of a structure appearing to be a church; and a reliquary. We know that a lot of original documents, such as the Manuscript, were kept in the artist’s studio at Sagrada Fa146

CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):145-149 (2016)

milia temple but were destroyed by riots and fire during an assault on the temple at the start of the Spanish Civil War in July of 1936. Fortunately, some of Gaudi’s original documents—including the Manuscript—had been moved long before to another location, a task carried out by Domènech Sugrañes Gras (1878–1938), who, like Gaudí,was an architect from Reus. He succeeded his master in continuing work on the Sagrada Familia temple. However, according to Joan Bassegoda, it is estimated that more than six hundred records were lost, an invaluable amount of documentation including plans, notes, drawings, and models. These had been gathered over a whole lifetime devoted to architecture and reflect Gaudí’s use of complementary elements and very diverse materials, their transformation into true works of art, and his unusual application of geometric and mathematic concepts in the physical structures underlying his buildings. For years the Manuscript and other documents remained preserved—and mostly forgotten —until Cèsar Martinell (1888–1973) became highly interested in them while preparing his book, Gaudí. His life, his theory, his work, a 500-page volume published in 1967 by the Committee of Culture of the Architectural Board of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

Portrait of Antoni Gaudí.


Prior to this publication, Enric Casanelles, then Secretary of the Friends of Gaudí Association, also mentioned this notebook in his book, A new vision of Gaudí (Barcelona, 1965).

The Manuscript of Reus. Drawings and sketches made by Antoni Gaudí.


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):145-149 (2016)

The Manuscript of Reus

Since then, the Manuscript has received the attention of many experts and writers and has been translated into various different languages, including Japanese. In the words of Joan Bassegoda, “The Manuscript of Reus is a beautiful set of handwritten notes by Gaudí, which reflect the personality of a young student, full of energy and eager to conquer the world of architectural design”. In 1984, UNESCO declared three of Gaudí’s works as World Heritage Sites: Park Güell, the Palau Güell, and the Casa Milà. Later, in 2005, this selection was expanded to include four additional works: in Barcelona, the 2 Casa Vicens, the Nativity façade and the Crypt of the Sagrada Familia temple, and the Casa Batlló; and, in the neighbouring town of 1 2 Santa Coloma de Cervelló, the Crypt of the Colonia Güell.. Altogether, these seven buildings are known as the Works of Antoni Gaudí, which, according to UNESCO, “reflect an eclectic, very personal style to which Gaudí gave free rein in the field of architecture, as well as in the design of gardens, sculptures, and indeed all the arts”. It seems appropriate to summarize the explanation provided by UNESCO for having selected these Gaudí buildings as World Heritage Sites, as the Manuscript of Reus, attests to 5 4 all of these achievements: • “The work of Antoni Gaudí represents an exceptional and outstanding creative contribution to the develop­ment of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

• “Gaudí’s work exhibits an important interchange of values closely associated with the cultural and artistic currents of his time, as represented in Modernism of Catalonia. It anticipated and influenced many of the forms and techniques that were relevant to the development of modern construction in the 20th century.” • “Gaudí’s work represents a series of outstanding examples of the building typology in the architecture of the early 20th century, residential as well as public, to the development of which he made a significant and creative contribution.” We initially wondered what more could be said of a figure 3 such as Gaudí. This short text is a mere preface to what many others will have to say and discover about a master who, through his Manuscript, has allowed us to experience firsthand the ingenuity, beauty, and novelty with which he designed his enthralling creations. The Manuscript of Reus provides a glimpse of how this genius was capable of forging an art that is accessible to everyone and that perfectly combines industriousness in its creation, simplicity in its use of materials, and the sublime in the final product. 6 Acknowledgements. Authors thank the collaboration of Carmen Chica and Ricard Guerrero, from the AE-BKH, in the preparation and final form of this article. Competing interests. None declared.


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About the images on the first page of the articles in this issue. Articles of this thematic issue of Contributions to Science, devoted to the activities of the AE-BKH, show in their first page one photograph of a trencadĂ­s, a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism, created from broken pieces of ceramic, like tiles and dinnerware. Names and pages between parentheses indicate the authors and initial pages of the articles: Photo 1 (see Guerrero & Mas-Colell, p. 79); Photo 2 (see MartĂ­ et al., p. 83); Photo 3 (see Piqueras & Guerrero, p. 93) ; Photo 4 (see El-Awady, p. 99); Photo 5 (see Newman, p. 109); Photo 6 (see Skinner, p. 117); Photo 7 (see Chica, p. 129); Photo 8 (see Costa-Guix, p. 141); and Photo 9 (see Gomis & Katte, p. 145).


CONTRIBUTIONS to SCIENCE 12(2):145-149 (2016)



Institute for Catalan Studies

The Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC), academy of sciences and humanities, founded in 1907, is the top academic corporation of the territories of Catalan language and culture, and has been a full member of the International Academic Union since 1922. The IEC has 186 full or emeritus members from throughout the linguistic territory, and 72 corresponding members that represent our institution’s relations with the international scientific community, and has 28 filial societies of all fields of knowledge, with a total membership of around 10,000 across the whole territory. In addition, 111 local research centres also belong to it, and this shows how well grounded the research community is, throughout our cultural territory. The IEC is the central institution in the Catalan cultural world. It was set up in 1907 at the initiative of the Diputació de Barcelona to “establish here scientific study centres specialising and working not just in education, but in producing science and aiding research.” In the following years, the Institute set up its various science departments. The Philology Department, directed by Pompeu Fabra, played a key role in establishing the rules of the Catalan language.


Contributions to Science  

Volume 12 - Issue 2 - Decembre 2016

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