Davide Papotti visits the University of Denver

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Students and faculty gather outside the Lindsay auditorium awaiting Papotti’s lecture [Photo by: Cooper Dahlen-Pagano]

Sponsored by the University of Denver’s Department of Languages and Literatures and Department of Geography and the Environment, guest speaker Dr. Davide Papotti discussed his research in a presentation entitled “The Geography of Italy: negotiating historical heritage and current political challenges” on Tuesday, May 10.

“The title is quite ambitious,” said Papotti with a light chuckle as he took to the podium. “My aim is to provide some food for thought.”

Papotti, a lecturer at the University of Parma in Italy, earned a Master of Arts in Italian literature from the University of Virginia and a ph.D in Geography from the University of Padua. A few of his areas of research include tourism marketing, immigration and localization in Italy.

The presentation sought to inform the audience on how the Italian unification movement took form and the events which helped shape the current state of the country. Papotti examined Italy’s national identity in both the past and present through a historical perspective.

“It’s hard to think of Italy as a younger country but it is only 85 years younger than the United States as political entity,” Papotti asserted.

His slideshow detailed notable Italian historical figures such as Klemens von Metternich and Massimo D’Azeglio, statesman which had played pivotal roles in the unification of the country. After giving a context, Papotti noted how their actions have led Italy to its current regional structure.

From there, Papotti discussed how the different regions were formed. He demonstrated this by examining many sets of detailed maps which broke down the country’s territories and displayed how they had come to be divided. These maps came to form the bulk of the slideshow.

“A student wrote to me once on a class evaluation… nice course but ‘too many maps’,” Papotti said jokingly after having presented over a dozen different maps of Italy.

After a thoughtful analysis of the meaning behind Italy’s regional divisions, Papotti discussed Italy’s place within the European union. He ended on trying to explain things a bit more generally in the bigger picture.

“My conclusion will go to irreconcilable differences,” Papotti stated. “Geographers still have a lot of work to do.”

Although the event was open for anybody on campus to attend, the audience consisted primarily of students and faculty from the Italian and Geography departments. Many of the students in the audience were there to fulfill course requirements and most of them were taking notes for a response essay.

While some of the students may not have attended the event if they were not expected to, it seemed that everybody appreciated Papotti’s wisdom. They all gave him their full attention and many asked insightful questions during the Q&A following the conclusion of his powerpoint.

Papotti was very receptive to the interest of the audience and grateful for the hospitality of his hosts at the University of Denver. While he was swarmed by multiple students and faculty members as he descended from the stage, he graciously continued the conversation for those who wanted to stay.

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