November 17th, 2008

Reading to travel, travelling to read

“Reading to travel, travelling to read” was the title of the conference that took place in Barcelona last November 4th, 5th and 6th, organised as one of the events of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 by Libraries of Barcelona, coordinated by Pontas and directed by me... The aim of this conference was to get together in Barcelona personalities from different cultures and origines, all related to books and travelling, and to create a space for the dialogue around the fact that reading and travelling are two human activities very linked among them: when we travel, we read the world outside our quotidianity; when we read, we travel without moving. And that both activities can be powerful tools to increase the dialogue between cultures.

I can tell that it was a great success and that everyone involved we were all very happy in the end!

Every session was conceived as a casual conversation in front of the audience between two or three participants. All sessions started with a short audiovisual introduction produced by Pontas and counted with simultaneous translation.


On Tuesday November 4th, the conference started around the subject of “Living travelling” with the participation of Clea Koff (forensic anthropologist that in 1996 joined the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal's first forensic investigation in Rwanda; she continued to work as a forensic expert for the UN war crimes tribunal in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo … and is the author of The Bone Woman); Tom Hall (travel editor at Lonely Planet from London, author of the weekly Ask Tom feature in The Observer, he also contributes to a host of other media around the world and is a regular commentator on travel news and events, including BBC Breakfast); and writer and journalist Xavier Moret.


On Wednesday November 5th there were three sessions:

“Ways of spreading the passion for travelling”, with Chris Stewart (ex-drummer of Genesis, among many other things, and author of the international best-seller Driving over lemons), Pep Bernadas (anthropologist, traveller and co-founder and proprietor of the bookshop Altaïr in Barcelona) and Agnès Agboton (writer from Benin living in Barcelona).

“Literature between cultures”, a dialogue between two writers: Lolita Bosch and Jamal Mahjoub.

“Journalism that makes you travel”, a conversation between Spanish journalists and writers Ramón Lobo and Bru Rovira and Mariane Pearl (award winning journalist and writer, she was five months pregnant when her husband, The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Pakistan in 2002; determined not to be broken, she wrote A Mighty Heart, translated into 15 languages and released as a major feature movie starring Angelina Jolie; besides working for Radio France International, she is also a contributor to The New York Times andCondeNast Traveler, among many other media).


And finally on Thursday November 6th, three more sessions:

“Impressions about written and read travels”, a conversation between writers and professors Patricia Almarcegui (from Zaragoza), Jean Soublin (from Paris) and Lieve Joris (from Amsterdam).