Quand les grands esprits se rencontrent… en personne !

UNITA   29 of may of 2023

This French expression, which can literally be translated by ‘when great minds meet’, comes from a letter by Voltaire and indeed it would not be inappropriate to take the cosmopolitanism of the Enlightenment as a model for our European universities. As in Voltaire’s times, it is all very well to exchange by epistolary correspondence (emails and videoconferences), but nothing can equal the intellectual interactions of the ‘salons’ or, more prosaically, just meeting in person. This was once more proved by the UPPA UNITA Days_Cultural Heritage, 28-29 April 2023. They kicked off by parallel workshops on Friday morning, which gave the opportunity to participants to briefly present their current research. The discussions initiated in the morning had then ample room to be developed in the afternoon and in the evening, in more informal contexts. Thus, the visit to the Villa Saint-Basil’s lent itself to continuing the reflexions on travellers and foreign residents in the Pyrenees related to research projects presented during the parallel workshops. And the dinner en terrasse on Boulevard des Pyrénées, overlooking, to (over)quote Lamartine, “la plus belle vue de terre du monde”, revived, among other topics, the discussions on a possible Cultural Heritage Hub’s project on valorisation of disused historical railways.

Saturday’s day trip to the Château de Lavardens was also related to one of the workshops of Friday morning, i.e. the workshop on case studies by alumnae of the Master ‘Patrimoine et Musées’ now working for cultural institutions/organisations in the region. In fact, at the Château de Lavardens we were shown round by a team of alumnae who now work to promote the site to the general public while, at the same time, continuing to pursue in-depth academic research on its history. Apart from being a very interesting monument from a historical and architectural point of view, the château also houses contemporary art exhibitions. It has succeeded in being a dynamic cultural heritage centre in a remote rural area, in synergy with the village’s community.


Giovanna Hendel

Cultural Heritage Hub Coordinator

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